Hu meets ROK president, Japanese PM

Updated: 2012-05-14 12:47


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BEIJING - President Hu Jintao met here Monday morning with Republic of Korea (ROK) President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Lee and Noda are in Beijing to attend the Fifth Trilateral Summit Meeting between China, the ROK and Japan being held on Sunday and Monday.

The close exchanges among the leaders reflect the great importance the three nations attach to their relationships and cooperation, Hu said.

Hu hailed the positive results achieved during the trilateral summit meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.

During Sunday's meeting, the three sides agreed to launch talks on a free trade area (FTA) this year and witnessed the signing of an agreement to promote, facilitate and protect investment between the three countries.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan ties and the Year of China-Japan Friendly Exchanges. It is also the 20th anniversary of China-ROK diplomatic relations and the Year of China-ROK Friendly Exchanges.

As a crucial and integral part of East Asia cooperation, the process of trilateral cooperation between China, Japan and the ROK was initiated in 1999 on the sidelines of ASEAN plus China, Japan and the ROK summit. Practical cooperation has since grown rapidly, with the trilateral trade volume rising from $130 billion in 1999 to near $700 billion in 2011.

China has been the top trade partner of both Japan and the ROK for many years, and in turn they are major trade partners and sources of investment for China.