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China's Xi says willing to put South Korea ties back on track

19 May 2017

A senior foreign policy adviser to Chinese President Xi stressed the impo.

China has been infuriated by the US deployment of an advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea, saying it was a threat to its security and would do nothing to ease tension with North Korea.

"We're willing to work with South Korea to preserve the hard-won results, properly handle disputes, put China-South Korea relations back onto a normal track", Xi said as he greeted Lee in Beijing.

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"China attaches great significance to bilateral relations and is ready to cooperate with South Korean side to maintain the achievements reached between the countries", Xi was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency.

Lee arrived Thursday for a three-day visit to China following Moon and Xi's first phone conversation since Moon's inauguration earlier this month. The deployment of the THAAD system, which is created to intercept short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles at the terminal incoming stage, has been criticized by Beijing as undermining China's security interests. Moon would also visit Beijing for a standalone summit around the 25th anniversary of the relationship's establishment on August 24, Lee noted.

Mr. Lee said South Korean President Moon Jae-In had dispatched him to China to keep communications open between the two countries "at a critical time".

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The North has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the programme is necessary to counter USA aggression. South Korean businesses have faced boycotts, especially the retail group Lotte which provided the land on which the missile shield is being constructed.

China's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on Thursday reiterated calls for its dismantling.

In recent weeks Beijing and Seoul have signaled a desire to fix relations following the election of Moon, who has taken a friendlier stance toward China than his conservative predecessor. "Seoul needs to make a choice between deploying THAAD and resuming Sino-South Korean relations".

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