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China-ROK 20-year friendship to continue

By Zhang Yunbi  (China Daily)

13:58, September 01, 2012

Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping cuts a cake to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the Republic of Korea in Beijing, August 31, 2012. (Photo/Xinhua)

Mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the Republic of Korea is expected to increase "for the next 20 years", and the ongoing negotiation for a bilateral free-trade agreement is an opportunity to resolve existing differences, said Lee Kyu-hyung, the ROK ambassador to China.

In an exclusive interview, Lee placed high expectations on the ongoing bilateral FTA talks, which officially started in May.

The third round of dialogue concluded in late August in Weihai, Shandong province, and the fourth is planned to kick off in October, Yonhap News Agency said.

The ambassador said both sides are seeking a free-trade pact that "rules out unnecessary losses" in sensitive sectors and benefits both nations.

In recent months, farmers and fishermen in the ROK have protested that Chinese products pose a threat to their country's "fragile agricultural and fishery sectors".

The issue also came up during previous FTA talks between Seoul and other economies, including the European Union, the United States and some South American countries, the ambassador said.

Lee expressed confidence that a compromise would be reached.

The first round of FTA talks started in mid-May, followed by a second round in July. According to Minister of Commerce Chen Deming, the negotiation process is expected to take two years.

Lee endorsed the rapidly developing ties between the two major Northeast Asian economies.

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