China, SKorea Hold Summit On NKorea Post-Kim

Published January 9, 2012 6:18AM (EST)

BEIJING (AP) — The South Korean and Chinese presidents are holding their first summit since the death of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il opened the possibility of change in a country of vital interest to Seoul and Beijing.

Kim's death last month has pushed North Korea to the center of a summit meant to focus on mending frayed relations over Chinese fishing-fleet incursions in South Korean waters and Beijing's support for Pyongyang.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak arrived Monday and was to meet with China's Hu Jintao after a pomp-filled formal welcome later in the day.

Chinese state media says Beijing is expected to offer to open talks on a free-trade agreement, highlighting the countries' robust economic ties in contrast to strains on other fronts.

By Salon Staff

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