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S. Korean military chief to visit China's North Sea Fleet


BEIJING, June 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military chief will visit China's North Sea Fleet on its east coast on Wednesday during his two-day trip aimed at strengthening military ties between the two nations, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

South Korean JCS Chairman Gen. Jung Seung-jo arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for talks with his Chinese counterpart Gen. Fang Fenghui, chairman of the People's Liberation Army General Staff, and agreed to strengthen the defense relationship between the two nations.

On the second day of his visit, Jung will meet Fan Changlong, the vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, in Beijing to discuss the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, and then fly to Qingdao, home to China's North Sea Fleet, the JCS said.

The Chinese official met North Korean Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae when he visited China last month as Pyongyang's chief envoy as part of Pyongyang's efforts to mend ties with its long-lasting ally. Their meeting took place amid high tensions on the Korean Peninsula following the communist nation's nuclear test in February and their saber-rattling rhetoric against Seoul and Washington in recent months.

According to China's official Xinhua News Agency, Fan told Choe that his country is willing to work with all sides to reduce regional tension through dialogue.

China's North Sea Fleet is responsible for waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula and Japan, including the Yellow Sea and the East Sea. It's the home port of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which has been at the ice-free seaport since February along with five nuclear submarines and other warships.

The Yellow Sea is the scene of several deadly naval skirmishes with North Korea, and minor clashes between South Korean authorities and Chinese fishermen in past years.

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