Dec. 4 (UPI) -- China's top diplomat wooed South Korean officials during his first visit to Seoul in more than four years with pledges to improve ties.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who last visited Seoul in March 2015 for a trilateral summit, told his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha that China "holds fast to multilateralism, along with South Korea," South Korean news service MoneyToday reported Wednesday.
"China always carries out a policy of independent peace diplomacy," Wang said. "[China] opposes the bullying of small nations by big nations that rely only on its strength. We also oppose internal interference by other countries."
The top Chinese diplomat also said the greatest threat to global stability is "unilateralism and hegemony," without mentioning the United States by name.
Wang is meeting with Kang after an extended period of strained relations following a Seoul decision to deploy U.S. missile defense on the peninsula, a move Beijing claimed would increase U.S. surveillance of Chinese territory.
On Wednesday Kang said she was "pleased" to discuss with Chinese officials the "lacking aspects" of bilateral ties. Chinese officials reportedly nodded when Kang made the remarks, according to Money Today.
China and South Korea have attempted to improve ties following President Moon Jae-in's election, but a 2017 summit with President Xi Jinping in Beijing is remembered in Seoul for Xi's lackluster reception.
Wang and Kang's meeting on Wednesday is raising speculation in South Korea the two sides could be preparing for a state visit from Xi to Seoul, his first trip to South Korea since Moon assumed office, Korea Economic Daily reported.
Wang and Kang also discussed denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday, according to News 1. The Trump administration has requested fully verifiable North Korea denuclearization, which Pyongyang has refused, citing the need for sanctions relief.