South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for increased cooperation between his country and Chongqing in a meeting with the city's Communist Party leader, who is also China's rising political star.
"I believe economic cooperation between South Korea and Chongqing will greatly contribute to China's development of the west, as well as balanced development of China, and I promise the South Korean government will do its utmost to boost their cooperation," the South Korean president said while meeting Chen Miner, the governor and Communist Party secretary of Chongqing.
Moon arrived here late Friday as part of his four-day state visit. While in Beijing, he met Chinese President Xi Jinping for their third bilateral summit, followed by talks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
"I realize Chongqing is not only a city of long history but also a very important city that will lead the future of China," the South Korean leader said in his meeting with Chen over lunch.
Moon was the first South Korean president ever to visit the southwestern Chinese city.
His meeting with Chen followed a brief visit to the former office of the South Korean provisional government, which operated in China during the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule of Korea.
"I deeply appreciate the fact that the government of Chongqing has taken enormous efforts to help protect the historical sites of our independence movement," Moon said.
Chen noted Moon's trip to Chongqing highlighted the long history and significance of friendship between the two countries.
"I believe your visit to China, especially Chongqing, this time has a very special meaning. That is because it can commemorate our historical relationship, mutual friendship and other memorable events of the past and also help strengthen our business cooperation," he said through his interpreter, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
Chen said the city will also resume a project to preserve the historical sites of Korea's independence movement in Chongqing, Moon's top press secretary Yoon Young-chan said later in a press release.
The sites include the headquarters of Korean independence fighters. The project was suspended apparently amid China's protest against the THAAD U.S. missile defense system in South Korea, Yoon noted.
"We will launch a study to protect the historical sites of Korea's independence movement in Chongqing and also actively support South Korean firms that come to Chongqing," Chen was quoted as telling Moon.
The South Korean president was set to return home later Saturday. (Yonhap)