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(2nd LD) Wu Dawei raises THAAD issue in meeting FM Yun

All News 21:10 February 29, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout meeting with FM Yun; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, Feb. 29 (Yonhap) -- Wu Dawei, China's point man on Korea, asked South Korea's top diplomat Monday to deal appropriately with the THAAD issue in consideration of bilateral ties, Seoul's Foreign Ministry said after their meeting.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se met with Wu, and they agreed on the need to continue to develop Seoul-Beijing relations.

They had "broad consultations on the dazzling development of the relationship between South Korea and China and ways to further develop it down the road," said the ministry.

Wu briefly talked about the THAAD issue at the end of their discussion, it added. THAAD refers to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, a state-of-the-art U.S. missile defense system.

South Korea is moving to allow the U.S. to deploy a THAAD unit on its soil as part of efforts to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

China has expressed strong opposition to the move 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 noted Seoul is well aware of Beijing's position with regard to the matter, and he expressed hope that it will "handle the concern of the Chinese side appropriately," according to the ministry.

Earlier in the day, Wu had talks with Cho Tae-yong, deputy chief of South Korea's presidential national security office, and Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam.

Wu "greatly emphasized that China values the strategic cooperative partnership between South Korea and China," a ministry 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."

Just days earlier, 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.

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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