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South Korea, China Agree to Create 'Strategic and Cooperative Partnership'

The presidents of South Korea and China say they have agreed to boost security and trade ties after meeting Tuesday in Beijing.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said the two sides agreed to elevate their ties and forge what he called a strategic and cooperative partnership.

Speaking at a joint news conference with China's President Hu Jintao, Mr. Lee called the proposed partnership a historic new start.

The two agreed to work together on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program and to pursue talks on a free trade deal.

Mr. Lee says South Korea and China will continue a joint study to evaluate the feasibility of a free trade agreement.

China is South Korea's biggest trading partner. Last year their total trade amounted to $145 billion.

Mr. Lee arrived in Beijing Tuesday on a three-day trip. Several dozen business leaders have accompanied him to China.

South Korean firms are trying to win a greater share of the Chinese market in sectors ranging from telecommunications and autos to construction and retail sales.