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South Korean, Chinese Leaders Urge Continued Effort on North Korean Nuclear Dispute

The presidents of South Korea and China have agreed to push further to persuade North Korea to dismantle its nuclear programs. The two also pledged to expand bilateral trade, and Seoul plans to consider China a market economy, which will help meet that goal. Both leaders are scheduled to join a gathering of Asian and Pacific heads of government in Busan, South Korea.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun ended their meeting Wednesday by urging all parties to show flexibility in resolving the North Korean nuclear dispute.

At a news conference, President Hu said that resolving the issue and improving the regional security situation would help both the South Korean and the Chinese economies grow.

President Hu praised Seoul's engagement policy with North Korea, along with its role in seeking a peaceful end to North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

Mr. Hu says the six-party diplomatic process is laying a foundation for North Korea's denuclearization.

Japan, Russia, and the United States have joined with China and South Korea to try to persuade Pyongyang to comply with its past pledges that it would not build nuclear weapons.

The leaders of two of the world's exporting powerhouses also said they will work to expand trade between their countries.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun says it will soon be even easier for China to sell its products to his country.

Mr. Roh says that Seoul is ready to give China full market economy status.

That will exempt China from South Korean duties aimed at preventing dumping, or selling products in South Korea at below cost to seize market share.

Under the terms of China's 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization, member nations are permitted to treat China as a non-market economy until 2016. The United States, the European Union, and Japan have not yet granted China market economy status. They are urging Beijing to further open its economy and reduce government controls on industry.

The South Korean and Chinese leaders say they aim to more than double their current trading volume to $200 billion by 2012.

President Roh also reiterated South Korea's support for Beijing's "one China" policy toward Taiwan. China views Taiwan as its territory, and has threatened military action if the island declares independence. The South Korean president may have been making an indirect response to comments by President Bush earlier Wednesday, when he praised Taiwan's democracy as a possible model for Beijing.

The two presidents met in Seoul ahead of the summit of leaders of the 21 members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. The leaders gather Friday and Saturday in the South Korean port city of Busan.