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(LEAD) China’s Xi sends congratulatory letter on Moon’s 70th birthday – World News in English

(ATTENTION: UPDATES with the government official’s comments on a possible summit in paragraphs 5-7)

SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) — Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent a congratulatory letter to President Moon Jae-in on his 70th birthday, a presidential spokesman said Monday.

Moon also sent a letter of thanks to Xi and they agreed to further develop bilateral ties as this year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations, according to Moon spokesman Park Kyung-mee.

Moon and Xi “agreed to further develop a strategic cooperative partnership between Korea and China,” Park said.

Moon, who turned 70 on Monday, is working from home until Tuesday in accordance with anti-virus protocols as he returned home Saturday from an eight-day trip to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Seoul and Beijing are reportedly in talks to host a virtual summit between Moon and Xi in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics next month.

But officials here expressed skepticism that the summit would be held before the opening ceremony of the Games on February 4 due to a lack of time to coordinate the agenda, especially amid ongoing tensions between China and the United States.

“We cannot prejudge the outcome because we are still in communication with the Chinese side, but for now, it looks like it will be difficult to organize a summit at an early date,” a government official said on condition of anonymity.

Moon visited China in 2017 and 2019, but Xi’s agreed reciprocal trip was postponed due to the pandemic.

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