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(3rd LD) China tells Kerry its security interests must not be undermined

All Headlines 17:44 March 09, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS Chinese foreign minister's plan to visit Russia in last 3 paras)

BEIJING, March 9 (Yonhap) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Beijing's security interests must not be undermined, China's foreign ministry said Wednesday, in a veiled warning against the possible deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.

Wang made the remarks during a telephone conversation with Kerry earlier in the day as they discussed the current situation on the Korean Peninsula among other issues, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a press briefing.

"Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is highly sensitive," Hong said. "Against this backdrop, all parties should remain calm, exercise restraint and refrain from provoking each other."

"Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that China's reasonable and legitimate security rights and interests should not be undermined," Hong said, without giving the remarks by Kerry.

Hong did not mention the U.S. missile shield, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, by name, but China has long voiced opposition to the possible deployment of the THAAD battery to South Korea, claiming it would be detrimental to its own security.

South Korea decided to start formal talks with the U.S. to adopt the THAAD battery in the wake of North Korea's fourth nuclear test and rocket launch this year. The first formal negotiations between Seoul and Washington were held last week.

For South Korea, the decision to adopt the U.S. missile system was based on its national security interests to enhance its defensive posture against North Korea's advances in its nuclear and missile programs.

The Chinese foreign minister will fly to Moscow on Thursday for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Hong said.

The two ministers will discuss regional and international security issues of common concern, Hong said.

Senior diplomats from Russia and China held regular talks last week during which they shared concerns about the possible deployment of the THAAD battery in South Korea.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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