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Moon and China's Xi agree to improve ties, denuclearize N

16 Mai 2017

South Korea's new president has told his Chinese counterpart that he plans to send a special delegation to Beijing for talks on North Korea and a contentious USA missile-defense shield.

Beijing - the North's biggest trade partner and diplomatic protector - is infuriated over the deployment of a United States missile defence system in the South, and Seoul is embroiled in a row with fellow United States ally Tokyo over wartime history.

Moon also has said he would reconsider the deployment of a controversial USA missile defense system known as THAAD, which was installed on the divided peninsula based on an agreement with ousted President Park Geun-hye.

Trump and Moon appear at odds over how to deal with Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs, with the USA president favoring economic sanctions and military force if necessary.

"The North Korean nuclear issue should be solved in a comprehensive and phased manner, and the pressure and sanctions, as well as negotiation, should be combined", Moon Jae-in is quoted as having told Xi in a Blue House statement.

Some analysts believe North Korea refrained from major provocations recently so as to not hurt Moon's chances in Tuesday's South Korean election.

Moon said in his first speech as president soon after he was sworn in on Wednesday that he would immediately begin efforts to defuse security tensions on the Korean peninsula and negotiate with Washington and Beijing to ease the THAAD row.

Moon, a former human rights lawyer, won a resounding victory after his right-wing predecessor, Park Geun-Hye, was ousted following months of scandal, protests and political turmoil implicating some of the south's most high-profile oligarchs, including the head of Samsung Group.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday invited South Korea's new president to the White House, as the long-time allies try to forge a common strategy to tackle North Korea.

Mr Moon also raised the issue of apparent economic retaliation against South Korean firms in China, he said.

Mr Moon asked Mr Xi to personally look into ways to resolve the damaging sanctions against South Korean businesses in China and also restrictions on Chinese tour groups coming to Korea. He also calls for the United States to bring back tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea after withdrawing them in the 1990s.

Moon has long said the next South Korean government should review the Thaad deployment and decide to allow it only after seeking China's understanding.

As liberal President Moon Jae-in took office Wednesday, attention is being drawn to whether Seoul could resume the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which was shut down past year following Pyongyang's nuclear and missile provocations.

During his call with Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe, the two leaders agreed that their countries must not let their hard history hamper co-operation in dealing with North Korea's nuclear program, Moon's office said.

South Korea's electorate is deeply divided along ideological and generational lines, and the strong early turnout was seen as being driven by younger voters, who are more likely to support the liberal Moon.

Moon and China's Xi agree to improve ties, denuclearize N