South Korea's Lee Myung-bak in China for state visit

Image source, Reuters
Image caption, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was given a grand welcome by Chinese officials at Beijing airport

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has arrived in Beijing for a three-day state visit.

He has met Chinese President Hu Jintao as well as Wu Bangguo, chairman of the National People's Congress.

This is the first major meeting between the two since North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death. Mr Hu is to host an official state dinner for Mr Lee.

Chinese state media reported Beijing is likely to offer to open talks on a free-trade agreement.

Mr Lee will "discuss ways to develop the strategic partnership between the two nations and co-operative measures for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula", according to a press statement from his office.

Observers say Seoul wants closer co-ordination with Beijing on the issue of North Korea.

China, North Korea's main ally and key trade partner, was quick to endorse Kim Jong-un's leadership after his father's death on 17 December.

It is also the chair of the stalled six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to end its nuclear ambitions.

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