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(LEAD) Presidential official meets with Chinese nuclear envoy

All News 16:51 February 29, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with envoy's remarks on THAAD in paras 3-5)

SEOUL, Feb. 29 (Yonhap) -- A senior presidential official met with China's top nuclear envoy on Monday, an official said, the latest in a series of consultations between the neighbors over looming U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

Cho Tae-yong, deputy chief of South Korea's presidential national security office, held talks with Wu Dawei at Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea's presidential office, presidential spokesman Jeong Yeon-guk said, without elaborating.

Wu also held talks with Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam over lunch, during which he raised the issue of THAAD, a U.S. missile defense system being considered for deployment in South Korea, according to a ministry official.

China has expressed strong opposition to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system despite repeated assurances from Seoul and Washington that it would target only incoming North Korean missiles. Beijing argues the deployment would undermine its security interests.

Wu "greatly emphasized that China values the strategic cooperative partnership between South Korea and China," the official told reporters on the condition of anonymity. "From that perspective, he repeated China's basic stance that it opposes the deployment of THAAD, to which we explained our position."

The meetings came days after U.S. envoy to the U.N. Samantha Power unveiled key points of a draft sanctions resolution to punish North Korea for conducting a fourth nuclear test and launching a long-range rocket in recent weeks.

The new sanctions would require mandatory inspection of all cargo going into and out of North Korea; ban its exports of coal, iron and other mineral resources, a key source of hard currency for Pyongyang; and prohibit all small arms and other conventional weapons from being sold to the North.

Wu arrived in Seoul on Sunday and met with his South Korean counterpart Hwang Joon-kook. Wu said after the meeting that Seoul and Beijing agreed to support the U.N. Security Council's adoption of a new resolution in response to the North's nuclear test and rocket launch.

The Chinese envoy is also set to meet with South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se later in the day.

China is one of the five permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council and is believed to have significant leverage over Pyongyang as China is North Korea's most important trading partner and a key source of food and fuel.


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