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Saenuri officials visit Seongju to help resolve THAAD dispute

All News 14:14 July 26, 2016

SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) -- Ruling Saenuri Party officials visited the southeastern town of Seongju on Tuesday, in a bid to find solutions to the on-going protests by residents who have opposed the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system there.

"Saenuri aims to facilitate dialogue between the government and the residents to persuade the residents of Seongju," said Chung Jin-suk, the party's floor leader.

During his visit, Chung said the residents, the U.S. Army and the party should establish a committee to discuss the issue, adding that the case cannot be settled by staging protests.

Residents have been expressing discontent with the move, questioning the transparency of the decision-making process, as well as the potential risks to their health. They have also staged rallies in both Seongju and Seoul, urging the government to withdraw the plan.

"Even taking the importance of national security into consideration, the party would not push for the THAAD system if such a move would impact the health of residents and the regional economy," the lawmaker stressed.

Chung, however, said the system is guaranteed to be safe, adding that a similar radar has also been operating in the region without any ill effect.

South Korea's defense ministry on Monday said it has also reviewed deploying THAAD in another location in Seonju with no inhabitants nearby as proposed by some but concluded the location was unsuitable.

Earlier in the month, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn also visited the town to win approval from the residents, only to be met by strong resistance from the residents who threw water bottles and eggs at him.

On Tuesday, residents also staged a mock funeral of the ruling party.

colin@yna.co.kr
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