Hope for improved China, South Korea relations after leaders speak

Moon assumed presidential duties early Wednesday after the National Election Commission finished counting Tuesday's votes and declared him the victor of the special election necessitated by the ousting of conservative Park Geun-hye, whose downfall and jailing on corruption charges is one of the most turbulent stretches in the nation's recent political history.

Congratulating Moon on his election as South Korean president, President Xi said that China and South Korea are close neighbours as well as important players in the region.

Moon was sworn in as president of South Korea on Wednesday, a day after he was declared the victor of the election.

In the first direct contact between the South Korean and Chinese leaders, Xi explained China's position, Yoon, the South Korean presidential spokesman said, without elaborating.

The Moon administration has yet to appoint foreign affairs and security teams, however diplomatic sources still believe that the first Korea-U.S. bilateral summit could happen as early as June.

When the special envoys will be sent to each other has yet to be decided, but Xi has also invited Moon on a visit to his country, he noted.

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This was the first time the Chinese leader has called a South Korean president to congratulate him or her on an election victory, said Yoon Young-chan, Moon's press secretary, at a press briefing.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) put out a four-sentence report late on Thursday on Mr Moon, who calls for dialogue, along with sanctions and pressure, to curb the North's nuclear ambitions.

During his presidential campaign, Moon announced his plan to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, according to which South Korea would break out of the diplomacy and security crisis by taking the lead in pushing for North Korea's denuclearization.

They also agreed that efforts are needed by all parties to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula and resolve the North Korea nuclear issue. The leaders agreed to strengthen the alliance. "If the conditions shape up, I will go to Pyongyang [the North Korean capital]", Moon said.

"The talk about a South-North summit is a little premature, but regardless of that, there's a need for a summit meeting", Suh said. It's also significant that Moon indicated (albeit in an indirect manner) during his phone call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he doesn't mean to adhere to the December 2015 agreement on the comfort women issue.


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