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(2nd LD) Park calls N.K. provocations challenge to Seoul-Beijing ties

All Headlines 11:06 September 05, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS Xi's comments in paras 6-7)
By Song Sang-ho

HANGZHOU, China, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye on Monday called North Korea's continued provocations a challenge to relations between South Korea and China, voicing her hope for Seoul and Beijing to turn the situation into an opportunity to further strengthen their bilateral relationship.

She made the remarks during her summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies in China's eastern lakeside city of Hangzhou.

The summit was held amid strains in the relations between Seoul and Beijing over the planned deployment of a U.S. antimissile system in South Korea.

"This year, North Korea conducted a fourth nuclear test and a ballistic missile provocation, which has seriously undermined peace in this region and posed a challenge to the development of the South Korea-China relations," she said at the summit.

"(I) hope that through earnest communication, our two countries can turn this challenge into an opportunity to further strengthen and move forward our bilateral relationship."

Touching on the bilateral ties, Xi said that the two nations should put their relations on the "right track" toward the stable and healthy development of their partnership, and play an "active role" for fostering peace in the region and the world.

Xi also pointed out that South Korea and China are close neighbors and share common interests, and that they should cherish the foundation of their political cooperation and surmount "difficulties and challenges."

The issue related to the stationing of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on the Korean Peninsula has emerged as a major thorn in the Seoul-Beijing relations as Beijing strongly opposes it, saying it would hurt its security interests.

Seoul has defended the move as an "inevitable, self-defense" measure to counter Pyongyang's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

In an interview with Russia's state-run news agency, Rossiya Segodnya, last week, Park stressed that if Pyongyang's escalating military threats are eliminated, the need for THAAD will "naturally" dissipate.

During his summit with U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday, Xi reiterated his opposition to THAAD, asking the United States to respect China's strategic security interests, according to China's state-run Xinhua News Agency.

He called on "all parties to refrain from any act that could escalate regional tension and collectively make positive efforts to put the situation back on the right track," the news agency reported.

President Park Geun-hye (L) shakes hands with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping before their talks on the sidelines of the summit of the Group of 20 leading economies in Hangzhou, eastern China, on Sept. 5, 2016. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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