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(LEAD) Presidential advisory group backs THAAD deployment

All News 21:43 July 21, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS N. Korean foreign ministry's statement in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, July 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's presidential advisory body on inter-Korean ties adopted a resolution Thursday supporting the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system, called THAAD, on the peninsula.

"We actively support the government's THAAD deployment decision aimed at protecting the people's life and security against growing North Korean nuclear and missile threats," the operating committee of the National Unification Advisory Council said in the statement.

South Korea's Defense Ministry announced last week that the U.S. military will deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense unit in Seongju, a small county located some 300 km southeast of Seoul, next year.

Local residents are fiercely against the decision, concerned about its impact on their daily life.

China has also reacted angrily, saying a THAAD battery in South Korea will mainly target its military. North Korea has threatened military retaliation.

In a show of force, the North test-fired three ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Tuesday.

The council stressed, however, that the THAAD deployment is part of efforts to safeguard South Korea and its alliance with the U.S. against North Korea's provocations.

It urged Pyongyang to stop trying to blackmail and divide the public here.

Yoo Ho-yeol, executive vice chairman of the council, expressed his hope that its resolution on THAAD will help prevent further internal conflicts on the matter.

Formed in 1980, the council is a constitutional organization to advise the nation's president on ways of peaceful re-unification. It's chaired by the president.

The North's foreign ministry, meanwhile, argued the U.S. is not qualified to criticize its missile launches.

"The U.S. has to look back on the fact that it is posing a grave threat to the DPRK with nuclear weapons after bringing to South Korea all types of strategic assets, before slandering others," the ministry's unnamed spokesperson told the communist regime's Korean Central News Agency. The DPRK is the acronym for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The U.S. will be confronted with "prompt, merciless and deadly nuclear retaliation" if it stays on the course of a military buildup on the peninsula, added the spokesperson.

lcd@yna.co.kr
(END)

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