China presses South Korea on THAAD missile system

AFP Getty

Regional experts have believed for months that North Korea was preparing for its sixth nuclear test and was working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S., presenting Trump with one of his most pressing security issues.

He told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday the resolution of the North Korea issue "must be comprehensive and sequential, with pressure and sanctions used in parallel with negotiations".

He told Xi the ultimate goal of sanctions was to persuade North Korea to engage in dialogue about abolishing its nuclear program.

Moon assumed presidential duties early in the morning after the National Election Commission finished counting Tuesday's votes and declared him victor of the special election necessitated by the ousting of conservative Park Geun-hye, whose downfall and jailing on corruption charges is one of the most turbulent stretches in the nation's recent political history.

Moon has said he would "go to Pyongyang if conditions are met" during his inaugural address, and had proposed the reopening of a jointly operated factory park in the right circumstances. USA officials have said they see no value in resuming global talks with North Korea until Pyongyang has made clear it is committed to denuclearisation.

The new president said in his inauguration speech that he would "do everything I can to build peace on the Korean Peninsula". Those talks collapsed in 2008. It has also been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States, presenting Trump with perhaps his most pressing security issue. South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is treating the remarks over the phone as instructions and has started preparing for deliberations with the U.S. to schedule the summit.

"We hope for Russian Federation to play a constructive role in order for North Korea to stop with its nuclear provocations and go the way of denuclearisation", Moon was cited as saying to Putin in the 20-minute conversation.

"Threats from North Korea's nuclear and missile development have entered a new stage", Japan's Mr Abe told Mr Moon in their telephone call, according to Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda.

On Thursday, North Korea expressed what it wants from the South's new government through the newspaper, instead of official bodies. Moon took office instantly, without a transitional period.

Moon officially took office on Wednesday after winning Tuesday's snap presidential election with over 41.08 percent of votes, according to South Korea's National Electoral Commission.

During the campaign, Moon had criticized the anti-missile system, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which China sees as a threat to its security.

The North did not report the victory of the South's previous president Lee Myung-Bak at all. "The situation became more urgent, with rumors appearing about a crisis on the Korean Peninsula and with Trump asking us to pay $1 billion [for THAAD], and Trump [as a former businessperson] tends to like getting things over with".

It quotes Moon as saying he's aware of Chinese worries about the system and saying he hopes the two countries would have more understanding on each other's positions on the system.

Xi told Moon South Korea and China should respect each other's concerns, set aside differences, seek common ground and handle disputes appropriately, China's foreign ministry said. The plan under consideration, Kim said, was for Moon to have his first encounter with Trump during the G-20 summit, which will be held in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7-8, and then to visit Washington around the UN General Assembly in September for a summit.

China has denied it is retaliating against South Korean businesses.

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