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    China, South Korea Reiterate Goal of Nuclear-Free Korean Peninsula

    The new presidents of China and South Korea have reiterated their goal of achieving a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula as they met in the Chinese capital for their first talks since taking office earlier this year.

    Speaking at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, China's Xi Jinping and his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye agreed on a need for denuclearization, maintaining peace in the region, and resolving disputes through dialogue.

    South Korean President Park added that both sides believe North Korea should not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons "under any circumstances."

    President Park is making a four-day state visit aimed partly at seeking Mr. Xi's help in pressing North Korea to return to six-party talks on ending its nuclear weapons program.

    Pyongyang is a longtime ally of Beijing. But, North Korea has faced growing criticism from China for carrying out a February nuclear test in defiance of international objections. China backed a new round of U.N. Security Council sanctions against the North and cracked down on North Korean banks in response to the test.



    At Thursday's meeting, Chinese President Xi and Ms. Park also witnessed the signing of bilateral agreements on areas including energy cooperation and trade.

    China is South Korea's top trading partner, with two-way trade valued at $215 billion last year. Since the two nations established formal relations in 1992, China's economic ties with South Korea have grown so close they far exceed the scope of Chinese-North Korean trade.

    A large South Korean trade delegation is accompanying President Park in China, as she seeks to further expand business relations.

    Ms. Park, a self-taught Mandarin speaker, is known for her admiration of Chinese culture and received a warm welcome from Chinese officials. She is due to address Beijing's Tsinghua University and visit the central Chinese city of Xian as she continues her visit.

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