BEIJING, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Tuesday vowed to speed up negotiations on a free-trade agreement and promote east Asian cooperation.
The pledge was made during a meeting between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and ROK President Lee Myung-bak at the Diaoyutai Guesthouse in Beijing.
It is of great real and strategic significance to deepen east Asian economic integration, which is also facing good conditions, Wen said.
He added that China and the ROK should grasp this opportunity, make closer communication and coordination, start negotiations on a bilateral free-trade agreement as soon as possible, and start negotiations with Japan on a trilateral free-trade deal within the year, so as to jointly promote the process of creating a free-trade area between the three countries with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Lee echoed Wen, saying that it is in the interests of both sides to sign a free-trade pact and promote east Asian cooperation, and the ROK will work toward this goal with China.
Wen also spoke positively of the two countries' bilateral exchanges and cooperation since the establishment of ties 20 years ago, and he called on the two countries to maintain this momentum.
In the face of profound changes taking place in international and regional situations, the two countries should continue to pursue a good-neighborly friendship, enhance strategic mutual trust, and better safeguard their common interests, so as to ensure the long-term, stable and sound development of bilateral ties, Premier Wen said.
Lee said leaders of the ROK and China share a deep, mutual trust. The ROK-China relations, which have a good basis and feature fruitful exchanges and cooperation, are facing better prospects in the future.
Wen and Lee also held a candid, in-depth discussion on the security situation in northeast Asia.