S. Korea to hold series of preliminary talks on joining TPP negotiations

SEJONG, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to hold a series of preliminary bilateral talks on joining the ongoing negotiations for a U.S.-led regional trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the government said Friday.

Choi Kyong-lim, Seoul's deputy trade minister, will embark on a four-nation trip on Monday to the United States, Mexico, Chile and Peru, in that order, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Assistant Trade Minister Woo Tae-hee will also visit Malaysia and Singapore from Jan. 21 to hold bilateral talks on South Korea's participation in TPP negotiations.

The TPP is a key part of Washington's efforts to boost its economic presence and growth in the Asia-Pacific region, and is also seen as a U.S. counter to rising China.

South Korea expressed its interest in joining the TPP negotiations on Nov. 29. It has already held bilateral talks with Australia and Canada to check conditions for joining the talks. The negotiations currently involve 12 countries, including Brunei, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam.

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