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S. Korea, China agree to cool off row
Updated: 2005-11-15 20:15

Cooling off a spicy issue between their countries, China and South Korea agreed Tuesday to put the lid on a controversy over the pungent traditional Korean pickled vegetables known as kimchi.

"The issue of kimchi should not be a hindrance on overall South Korea-China relations," South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, a South Korean diplomat told journalists.

Li shared the same opinion with Ban, the South Korean official said.

Kimchi, Korea's famously garlic-drenched vegetables, was poised to develop into a diplomatic headache between the two Asian neighbors after South Korea's food watchdog announced in October it had found parasite eggs in samples of the dish imported from China. Earlier in the year, a South Korean lawmaker claimed to have found lead in Chinese-produced kimchi.

China struck back, saying it had found parasite eggs in 10 kimchi and other food products imported from South Korea. The Korea Food and Drug Administration then admitted it also found parasite eggs in locally produced kimchi.

Since then, the two neighbors have called for calm.

On Tuesday, the countries agreed in principle to set up a consulting body that would oversee quarantine safety, the South Korean official said. Chinese President Hu Jintao is set to meet South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in the capital Seoul on Wednesday where the plan will be discussed further.

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