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S. Korea, China hold first strategic defense talks
SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and China held their inaugural strategic defense talks on Wednesday in Seoul, the defense ministry here said.

   Lee Yong-gul, the South's vice defense minister, and Air Force Gen. Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese army, led each delegation at the meeting, the ministry added.

   On July 15 in Beijing, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie agreed to open the annual strategic dialogue. It was designed to prepare the two countries for contingencies on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the region.

   In his opening remarks, Lee said he was "confident" that the new strategic forum will contribute a great deal to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. He also said it was significant that the two sides were able to quickly implement their ministers' agreement for the strategic discussions.

   "I believe these meetings will open a new era of bilateral cooperation between South Korea and China," Lee said. "I also expect our annual strategic meetings to maximize our defense exchanges."

   In response, Ma said he hoped to have "candid and practical talks and a progressive exchange of opinions" during his stay.

   "I hope to see some concrete results through these efforts," Ma said. "Our two countries are close neighbors and important nations in the region. Enhancing mutual trust will correspond with the two countries' fundamental interest and will also contribute to the regional peace and security."

  
South Korean Vice Defense Minister Lee Yong-gul (L) and Chinese Air Force Gen. Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese army, shake hands on July 27 before opening their strategic defense talks. (Yonhap)



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