S. Korea’s Lee to visit Beijing annual summit


SEOUL — South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak will visit Beijing on Sunday for an annual summit with Chinese and Japanese leaders, the presidential Blue House said. Lee will meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for talks on North Korea, economic cooperation and environmental issues, it said Wednesday. The three nations will also sign an agreement calling for preferential treatment for investment from the partner countries. A joint communique will be issued after the event. Later Sunday Lee plans to hold one-on-one meetings with Wen and Noda to discuss bilateral issues, a Blue House spokeswoman said.

A separate meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao is also planned during Lee’s stay in Beijing until Monday, she said. Sunday’s three-way summit will be the fifth since the annual dialogue started in 2008. It comes amid concern North Korea could conduct its third nuclear test following a failed long-range rocket launch last month. China is the North’s sole major ally and provides it with an economic lifeline. Last week the five permanent U.N. Security Council members including China urged the North to refrain from any further nuclear tests. The North rejected the call and vowed to push ahead with “peaceful nuclear and space programs.” South Korea will start talks next Monday aimed at securing a free trade agreement with China, its largest commercial partner. Trade ministers from South Korea, China and Japan will separately meet in Beijing Saturday to discuss a possible trilateral free trade pact.