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

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In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he hoped China would continue implementing sanctions backed by the United Nations against North Korea.

Last week, Seoul and Beijing agreed to move beyond a year-long stand-off over the deployment of a USA anti-missile system in South Korea, a dispute that has been devastating to South Korean businesses that rely on Chinese consumers.

The agreement was disclosed as Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping met Saturday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam.

Tension on the Korean peninsula rose last month as North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump exchanged war-like threats and insults over the North's nuclear and missile development programme.

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

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The South Korean president expressed hope his talks with Li will further speed up the normalization of their ties. South Korean companies with Chinese customers had suffered due to backlash from China, which has vehemently opposed the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. 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.

Journalists were only allowed to cover the two leaders' opening remarks. Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the peace and friendship treaty between Japan and China.

The sabre-rattling has complicated China's relations with South Korea.

(STAND-UP) "But before that, a separate meeting between President Moon and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang here in Manila on the sidelines of the ASEAN-related summits will show whether the strongest steel is indeed forged in the hottest fire".

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 U.S. needed cooperation among the three countries to tackle the North Korean nuclear issue.