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(LEAD) Allies have no plan to discuss THAAD at defense chiefs' meeting: Seoul

All News 09:50 June 03, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES in lead; ADDS more info, background from para 2)

SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry on Friday said there are no plans to discuss the deployment of an advanced missile defense system with the United States at the upcoming meeting of the two countries' defense chiefs that will take place over the weekend.

Seoul's reaction came in response to an earlier media report that the two countries will soon announce the results of their ongoing talks over the possible deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery on South Korean soil, host to about 28,500 American troops.

"South Korea and the U.S. are in consultation over the issue of the THAAD deployment. After the consultation is over, the results will be released," the South's defense ministry said in a statement.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Thursday he expects the issue of the THAAD missile defense system to come up when he meets with his South Korean counterpart, Han Min-koo, in Singapore on Saturday, according to a transcript by the Defense Department.

The two ministers plan to hold talks on the sidelines of the annual "Shangri-La Dialogue" meeting of regional defense ministers.

In early March, the two countries launched a joint working group to discuss the THAAD deployment, a move designed to counter North Korea's increasing security threats. But both sides have not unveiled details about any progress.

"The announcement of the THAAD deployment is not imminent. We need more time to discuss it," said a ranking official in the Seoul government.

China has strongly opposed the possible THAAD deployment, claiming that the system could also target Chinese territory. But the U.S. has repeatedly said that it is only aimed at countering evolving missile threats from North Korea.

The North already fired off several long-range and a submarine launched missile to highlight its prowess in this field. It moreover, launched four intermediate range Musudan ballistic missiles in April and May.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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