China's Xi says willing to help end rift with South Korea

Frederick Owens
May 20, 2017

BEIJING (AP) - Chinese President Xi Jinping said Friday he's willing to help ties with South Korea return to a "normal track" amid a rift over Seoul's deployment of a high-tech US missile-defense system to guard against North Korean threats.

The envoy handed Abe a letter from President Moon stating that he hoped to meet Abe in the near future and restart the shuttle diplomacy. Beijing has suggested calling on North Korea to stop missile and nuclear tests in exchange for the USA and South Korea suspending military exercises in the region. Restoring relations with China, which have soured since South Korea made a decision to bring in the American missile defense system THAAD, has been one of President Moon Jae-in's top priorities, and Moon selected one of his closest political aides and friends as his envoy to demonstrate his sincerity about achieving that goal.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Thursday with a special envoy from President Moon Jae-in as the two countries seek to mend frayed ties over the deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the US here.

"China is willing to enhance communication with the new government of the ROK [Republic of Korea] on these issues, firmly promote denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and restart related dialogue at an early date", the Global Times quoted Xi as saying.

On the other hand, the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in had sent his envoy to China.

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The United States and South Korea have said the deployment is aimed purely at defending against any threat from North Korea, which experts have thought for months is preparing for its sixth nuclear test in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

South Korea has complained that some of its companies doing business in China have faced discrimination in retaliation for the Thaad deployment. Shares in AmorePacific 090430.KS , its largest cosmetics firm, were up 0.9 percent.

On Wednesday a pro-Pyongyang newspaper based in Japan urged Moon to forsake the security alliance with the United States.

Moon has not been trying to lull anyone into a false sense of security, and recently warned that conflict was likely with North Korea along the land and sea border, despite efforts to make peace. His envoy for Russian Federation will leave next week.

The two leaders could hold their first face-to-face talks in July on the margins of a summit of Group of 20 major economies in Germany.

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