Fri, Apr 07, 2017 - Page 1 News List

US-China Relations: US, Japan and S Korea discuss North before summit

Reuters, SEOUL and TOKYO

The US and South Korea yesterday agreed to proceed with the deployment of an advanced US missile defense system that has angered China, one day after North Korea’s latest test launch drew condemnation across the volatile region.

Leaders and senior officials from the US, South Korea and Japan yesterday discussed the latest provocation from Pyongyang, hours before US President Donald Trump was scheduled to begin a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

Analysts have said Wednesday’s launch of a ballistic missile from North Korea’s east coast probably took place with the summit in mind as the reclusive state presses ahead with its missile and nuclear programs in defiance of UN resolutions and sanctions.

US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster agreed in a telephone call with his South Korean counterpart on the need to proceed with the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea after Wednesday’s launch.

South Korea and the US have said the sole purpose of the advanced system is to defend against missile launches from North Korea.

However, China has said the system’s powerful radar could penetrate into its territory.

Despite angry opposition from Beijing, the US last month started to deploy the first elements of THAAD in South Korea.

South Korean officials said McMaster yesterday morning spoke with South Korean National Security Council Chief Kim Kwan-jin to discuss the North’s missile launch and the Trump-Xi summit.

“Both sides agreed to pursue ... plans in order to substantially strengthen the international community’s sanctions and pressure on North Korea,” South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statement, adding that “both agreed to push forward the deployment of THAAD by US forces in Korea.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that in a call with Trump the two leaders agreed that North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch was “a dangerous provocation and a serious threat.”

Abe told reporters at his official residence that he was watching to see how China would respond to Pyongyang after Xi meets Trump at the US leader’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

In brief comments televised nationally, Abe also said Trump had told him all options were on the table.

The White House said in a statement that Trump “made clear that the United States would continue to strengthen its ability to deter and defend itself and its allies with the full range of its military capabilities.”

Trump has repeatedly said he wants China to do more to exert its economic influence over its unpredictable ally in Pyongyang to restrain its nuclear and missile programs, but China denies it has any overriding influence on North Korea.

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