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U.S. says 'asolutely no connection' between THAAD, N.K. sanctions

All Headlines 06:20 March 01, 2016

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 (Yonhap) -- The United States on Monday strongly disavowed any link between its consultations with South Korea about the THAAD missile defense system and its cooperation with China in efforts to adopt a new package of sanctions on North Korea.

"There's absolutely no connection ... between our conversations with China about more robust measures (against the North) ... and our consultations with South Korea on the potential efficacy of a THAAD system on the peninsula," State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a regular press briefing.

Last week, the U.S. Pacific commander, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., said that the decision by Seoul and Washington to begin consultations on the potential deployment of the THAAD missile defense system doesn't mean the two sides have agreed to deploy the system.

The remarks contrasted with the strong tones that he and other U.S. commanders have spoken with while stressing the importance of placing the advanced defense system in the South to better defend against growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.

That, coupled with a delay in formally launching a joint Korea-U.S. working group on THAAD, raised speculation that the U.S. was backing down on the issue in the face of China's intense opposition to THAAD and in exchange for Beijing's cooperation in U.S. efforts to adopt a strong U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Pyongyang.

"There has been no deployment of THAAD and there has been no decision to deploy THAAD," Kirby said. "There has, in the wake of the most recent provocations by the North, been an agreement to begin consultations with South Korea about the potential efficacy of such a deployment. But no decisions have been made one way or another. So physically, just in a tangible sense, there could be no quid pro quo."

Kirby also stressed that it is because of the North's provocations that THAAD is being considered.

"Should Pyongyang not continue to conduct the provocative activities that they have, there wouldn't be a need to have consultations about a THAAD system," he said. "Regrettably, they've chosen a different course and continue to provoke and to increase instability there on the peninsula and so these consultations are ongoing."

jschang@yna.co.kr
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