South Korea, China agree to free-trade agreement

The presidents of South Korea and China have agreed to sign a free trade deal that will remove tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods over two decades.

The announcement from South Korea’s presidential office Monday came after South Korean President Park Geun-hye met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit being held in Beijing.

Negotiators held a 14th round of trade talks before Xi and Park met but failed to resolved outstanding issues.

A statement from South Korea’s presidential office said Xi and Park declared that the agreement was now “virtually” reached. Xi said negotiations have made “significant progress.”

South Korea’s rice industry will not be included in the trade deal but trade in 70 percent of agricultural goods will be liberalized.

China and South Korea began the trade negotiations in May 2012.

Two-way trade between China and South Korea was $229 billion in 2013.

 

Americans released from North Korean captivity back on US soil.

North Korea Freed Det_Cham640360110914.jpg

One of two Americans released from North Korean captivity this weekend thanked his family, friends, and other supporters for not forgetting about him while he was held in the Communist state.

“I just want to say thank you all for supporting me and standing by me,” Kenneth Bae, of Lynnwood, Wash., said during a press conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Seattle. “It’s been an amazing two years, I learned a lot,  I grew a lot, I lost a lot of weight.” Bae also thanked President Barack Obama, as well as the North Korean government for releasing him.

A plane carrying Bae and Matthew Miller, of Bakersfield, Calif., arrived at the base shortly after 9 p.m. local time. Members of Bae’s family, who live nearby, met him when he landed. His mother hugged him after he got off the plane. Miller stepped off the U.S. government aircraft a short time later and was also greeted with hugs. Neither Miller nor anyone in his party met the media.

The men’s release had been secured following a secret mission by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who accompanied Bae and Miller back to the U.S. and was the highest-ranking American official to visit Pyongyang in over a decade.

 

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