Home National Politics/Diplomacy
Twitter Send 2010/05/01 15:30 KST
Lee leaves Shanghai after summit with Hu Jintao

By Lee Chi-dong
SHANGHAI, May 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak wrapped up on Saturday his two-day trip to Shanghai that was highlighted by a summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao addressing the sensitive issue of how to handle the aftermath of the fatal sinking of a South Korean naval ship.

   Hu raised the issue first with a message of condolences to the bereaved families of the 46 fallen sailors at the start of the summit. The two leaders then had "serious discussions" on the sinking of the ship, Lee's office, Cheong Wa Dae, said.

   South Korean officials said Friday's summit is expected to lead to full-scale consultations between the two sides in mapping out an international response if North Korea is found to be responsible for the sinking of the 1,200-ton warship Cheonan on March 26.

   Cheong Wa Dae described the talks as fastening "the first button" of cooperation.

   The leaders also agreed to redouble efforts for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). A joint feasibility study is still underway, but officials anticipate an earlier-than-expected deal after the South Korean president instructed his government last month to look into an FTA with China, a move reflecting the urgency in preparing for new trade conditions stemming from the rapid rise of China.

   After the summit, Lee attended a gala dinner for dignitaries to mark the opening of the 2010 World Expo, also attended by North Korea's titular head of state, Kim Yong-nam. Neither acknowledged each other's presence.

   Earlier Saturday, Lee toured expo sites and met a group of South Korean residents in Shanghai and nearby areas.