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Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Monday, 25 August 2008 12:05 UK

N Korea tops Seoul summit agenda

Mr Lee (R) and Mr Hu (L) talk to journalists at a news conference on 25 August 2008
The two leaders promised to strengthen political and economic ties

The South Korean and Chinese presidents agreed to work together to advance stalled North Korean nuclear talks, as they began a two-day summit in Seoul.

Both countries would work to ensure multilateral talks aimed at disarming Pyongyang entered "a new phase", Chinese leader Hu Jintao said.

The leaders also agreed to expand trade ties and increase diplomatic dialogue.

Mr Hu arrived in the South Korean capital a day after the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Late on Tuesday he heads to Central Asia for a meeting of a regional security grouping.

Talks stalled

The summit in Seoul comes amid tension between the two Koreas.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has linked the provision of aid to progress on disarmament, angering Pyongyang. In July a North Korean soldier shot dead a South Korean housewife, further straining ties.

International talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear programme are also currently stalled.

In June, North Korea handed over long-awaited details of its nuclear activities to the five countries involved in the aid-for-disarmament deal.

But it has yet to agree on a mechanism for verifying this information with the US.

"We agreed to make joint efforts to ensure the six-party talks process enters a new phase," Mr Hu told journalists after his talks with Mr Lee. The talks were at a "key stage", he said.

The two sides also agreed to expand two-way trade to $200bn (100bn) by 2010, and to increase dialogue on foreign policy issues.

In Seoul, several dozen activists took part in a rally to highlight China's policy of repatriating North Korean refugees.

Beijing treats those that cross the border as economic migrants and sends them back - often, activists say, to harsh punishment.

After the summit, Mr Hu flies to the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, for a summit of a regional security grouping, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.



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