Wed, Nov 01, 2017 - Page 5 News List

South Korea, China agree to mend ties after standoff over US missile system

Reuters, SEOUL and BEIJING

Seoul and Beijing yesterday agreed to work swiftly to get relations back on track following a year-long standoff over the deployment of a US anti-missile system in South Korea which pummelled South Korean business interests in China.

The installation of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system had deeply angered China and spilled over into tourism, trade and even cultural ties with South Korea.

“Both sides shared the view that the strengthening of exchange and cooperation between [South] Korea and China serves their common interests, and agreed to expeditiously bring exchange and cooperation in all areas back on a normal development track,” the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The unexpected detente comes just days before US President Donald Trump begins a trip to Asia where North Korea will again take center stage.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is also to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on the sidelines of an upcoming APEC summit in Vietnam on Nov. 10 and 11, the South Korean presidential office said.

The two heads of state are likely to discuss North Korea’s missile and nuclear program as well as ways to develop bilateral ties, a senior South Korean presidential Blue House official later told reporters, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Pyongyang has undertaken an unprecedented missile-testing program, as well as its biggest nuclear test yet in early September, as it seeks to develop a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the US.

The moves have angered China, North Korea’s only major ally, and drawn further tough sanctions from the UN and the US.

The recent deterioration in ties between China and North Korea might have contributed to yesterday’s agreement, the Blue House official said.

The head of NATO yesterday urged all UN members to fully and transparently implement sanctions against North Korea, which he said has emerged as a global threat able to fire ballistic missiles as far as Europe and North America.

Yesterday’s agreement came after high-level talks led by Nam Gwan-pyo, deputy director of national security of the Blue House, and Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑), who is Beijing’s special envoy for North Korea-related matters.

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