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(LEAD) Park calls for end to 'needless' squabbling over THAAD deployment

All News 12:13 July 14, 2016

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead, photo; UPDATES throughout with Park's remarks)
By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye on Thursday called for an end to "needless" squabbling over the planned deployment of an advanced U.S. anti-missile battery here, reiterating that it is a self-defense measure to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

Presiding over a session of the National Security Council, the commander-in-chief asked for public understanding, stressing that the government could not hold open discussions over the selection of the deployment site as it is a "grave" security issue.

Park also ordered the government to continue communicating with the residents of Seongju, the southern town designated to host a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery to help address their concerns.

The residents in the town in North Gyeongsang Province have demanded the nullification of the deployment decision amid rumors that the electromagnetic waves emanating from the THAAD radar system could cause cancer and infertility. Seoul officials called the rumors "groundless."

"The government must continue to listen to the voices of the local residents and communicate with them in the process of deploying THAAD to a military base in Seongju," she said during the NSC session at her office Cheong Wa Dae.

"It is important to explain to the local residents that THAAD would cause no health problems and pose no dangers to the agricultural products produced in the region," she added, noting that the government should "repay" the residents by making the town a safe and good place to live.

Stressing that the issue was a very serious one in which the "well-being of the entire nation and the safety of the citizens are at stake," Park said it was difficult to openly discuss the selection of the site for the THAAD deployment.

Calling the deployment decision by Seoul and Washington null and void, the residents in Seongju denounced the government for having pushed for the selection of THAAD site without going through a "fair and transparent" consultation process.

Park then warned against "clashes and enmities" among the vested interests over the security issue, saying that such a development would lead the nation to fail to safeguard itself and its people.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
(END)

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