Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his visiting South Korean counterpart affirmed the importance of reaching a free trade agreement, six months after the countries settled a dispute over Canadian beef.

Harper welcomed Kim Hwang-sik to Ottawa as the two countries marked half a decade of bilateral relations.

The two men met in Harper’s Parliament Hill office prior to a ceremony to mark the start of the “year of Korea” in Canada.

The two leaders also discussed investment and energy issues.

Prior to Kim’s arrival in Ottawa, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird denounced North Korea for its plan to test a long-range ballistic missile in the coming weeks.

Baird said Canada considers the North Korean move provocative and a violation of several UN Security Council resolutions.