Park proposes joint S. Korea-China efforts to tap Eurasian market

SEOUL, July 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye called Friday for her initiative for a united Eurasia to be linked with China's vision for stronger economic relations with Central Asia in an effort to boost the competitiveness of the two nations.

Park made the remarks at a South Korea-China economic and trade cooperation forum, also attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping and more than 420 business leaders from both sides.

"I think there is the need to link 'the Eurasia Initiative' with China's vision for a 'New Silk Road,'" Park said. "Then, China will serve as a bridge linking the Far East, Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe, which will help boost the competitiveness of Seoul and China."

The Eurasia Initiative calls for infrastructure development and freer trade between Eurasian nations to create what could become a large single market rivaling the European Union.

Xi earlier proposed a "New Silk Road" to boost development and prosperity by connecting China to Germany, which stand at opposite ends of the Silk Road economic belt.

Park also told the forum that South Korea and China should diversify their economic cooperation focused on manufacturing into such sectors as services, energy, finance and culture.

Ahead of the forum, Xi delivered a lecture at Seoul National University, one of South Korea's most prestigious institutions of higher learning, and met with South Korea's parliamentary speaker Chung Ui-hwa.

During the lecture to some 500 students, professors, politicians and other dignitaries, Xi reaffirmed China's opposition to North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

"I oppose the existence of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and call for the two Koreas to resolve nuclear and other bilateral issues through dialogue and negotiations," he said.

The remark is widely interpreted as a warning to North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program.

Apparently mindful of what many see as Japan's increasingly militaristic moves, Xi also recalled that Korea and China fought alongside each other to counter Japan's past aggressions.

During Xi's meeting with Chung, the parliamentary speaker proposed that South Korea, China and Japan establish a joint committee to study the countries' shared history with the aim of publishing a joint textbook.

Xi expressed support for the proposal, saying he believes such a committee would help establish an accurate account of the three countries' shared history.

Following the meetings, Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, attended a special luncheon hosted by President Park.

Wrapping up a two-day official visit to Seoul, Xi left for Beijing Friday evening.

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