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(LEAD) Russia, China express concern over U.S. missile shield in S. Korea

All News 13:50 April 29, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with quotes, details)

BEIJING, April 29 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministers of Russia and China on Friday expressed concern about the possible deployment of an advanced U.S. missile-defense shield in South Korea.

In the wake of North Korea's January nuclear test and February launch of a long-range rocket, South Korea and the United States started formal talks in March on deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) unit, the advanced U.S. missile shield, in South Korea.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press conference after holding talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, that they shared the view that the U.S. should not seek to deploy a THAAD battery in South Korea, despite North Korea's growing threats of nuclear and missile capabilities.

Lavrov insisted that the deployment of a THAAD battery in South Korea would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Wang also repeated China's long-standing opposition to the U.S. missile shield, saying their "fair concern" must be taken into consideration.

South Korea and the U.S. have repeatedly assured that the missile system is aimed only at better defending South Korea against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

However, Russia and China have claimed that the deployment of a THAAD battery in South Korea would shift a security balance in Northeast Asia.

While North Korea shows no signs of abandoning its nuclear ambitions, Lavrov and Wang called for an early resumption of the six-party talks on the North's nuclear weapons program.

North Korea test-fired two medium-range missiles on Thursday, but the tests appeared to have failed, Seoul military officials said.

The Thursday missile tests came amid growing concern that North Korea may conduct another nuclear test ahead of its key party congress early next month.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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