While North Korea is often a topic when Chinese and South Korean leaders meet, the death of its leader last month has pushed it to the center of the summit, which had been intended 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 for the three-day visit Monday. After a pomp-filled formal welcome later Monday, Lee was to hold extensive talks with President Hu Jintao. He also is scheduled to meet with China’s premier and the head of the legislature.
Beijing is expected to offer to open talks on a three-way free-trade agreement with Japan, Chinese state media reported, highlighting the robust economic ties China and South Korea share in contrast with the strains on other fronts.