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China calls for stable ties with South Korea despite 'difficulties'

BEIJING/SEOUL — China and South Korea should seek stable ties despite their recent "difficulties", Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his South Korean counterpart on Monday (May 13) at a rare meeting in Beijing held amid tensions over Taiwan and other regional issues.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul said the countries needed to keep up momentum on co-operation and carefully manage ties, in a meeting that Cho's ministry said lasted for four hours.

Cho arrived in Beijing on Monday, his first trip to China since taking office in January, and the first visit to Beijing by a South Korean foreign minister in more than six years.

Relations between Beijing and Seoul came under new stress when South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said last year that democratically governed Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory, was a "global issue", not just an issue between China and Taiwan.

Yoon added last year that the increased tensions around Taiwan were due to attempts to change the status quo by force, and he opposed such a change. China protested, saying the comments were "erroneous" and "totally unacceptable".

The Taiwan issue surfaced again in March when the island participated in a US-backed democracy summit in Seoul. Beijing accused Seoul at the time of providing a platform for "Taiwan independence forces".

On Monday, Wang told Cho that China-South Korea relations had "faced difficulties and challenges, which are not in the common interest of both parties and not what China wants to see," according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement.

"It is hoped that South Korea will abide by the one-China principle, properly and prudently handle Taiwan-related issues, and consolidate the political foundation of