China calls for advancing free trade talks with S.Korea, Japan

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President Moon Jae-in of South Korea said on Tuesday it would not be easy for reclusive North Korea to destroy its nuclear arsenal quickly, even if it wanted to, given its weapons programmes were so developed.

President Moon Jae-in and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang reaffirmed their efforts Monday to quickly normalize the countries' ties soured by the deployment of a USA missile defense system in South Korea, while the Chinese premier noted a "bright" future for their bilateral relations.

The meeting follows Moon's bilateral summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Danang, Vietnam last week.

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The tensions triggered by North Korea's missile tests were not mentioned during the opening statements of Duterte and Moon.

South Korea's foreign minister is expected to visit China soon to fine-tune preparations for the upcoming summit between their leaders, a government source said Monday.

The two countries agreed to normalize their ties in a joint statement issued by their foreign ministries on October 31.

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China on Saturday vowed to strengthen coordination with its neighbours in dealing with the North Korean issue, as US President Donald Trump complimented Beijing on helping to rein in Pyongyang. "We hope that the two sides can work together to put the two countries' ties on a normal track of development at an early date". The deployment of Thaad has contributed to a 0.4 percentage point drop in South Korea's gross domestic product growth in 2017, according to Bank of Korea estimates, preventing it from growing at the fastest pace since 2011. And Japan's relations with South Korea hit a sour note this month.

Lian Degui, a professor with the School of Japanese Studies at Shanghai International Studies University, said Trump's visits to China, Japan and South Korea sent a signal that the USA needed cooperation among the three countries to tackle the North Korean nuclear issue.

President Moon Jae-in, left, and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, right, shake hands before their meeting on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) forum in Manila.

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