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(4th LD) Park calls N.K. provocations challenge to Seoul-Beijing ties

All Headlines 12:30 September 05, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS 3rd para; ADDS photo, more info in 10th para)
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 (G-20) advanced and emerging economies in China's eastern lakeside city of Hangzhou.

The summit was held amid friction between Seoul and Beijing over the planned deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system to South Korea to cope with Pyongyang's growing military threats.

"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."

President Park Geun-hye (L) and her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping hold a summit on the sidelines of the summit of the Group of 20 leading economies in Hangzhou, eastern China, on Sept. 5, 2016. (Yonhap)

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.

According to China's state-run Xinhua News Agency, Xi expressed his opposition to THAAD during the summit, arguing that "mishandling the issue is not conducive to strategic stability in the region and could intensify disputes."

Xi also reaffirmed China's commitment to realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability, and solving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation, the news agency said.

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.

In a friendly gesture to Park, Xi noted during the summit that Hangzhou, the site of the G-20 summit, is where South Korea's government-in-exile carried out its campaign for several years in the 1930s against Japan's colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula. Japan colonized the peninsula from 1910-45.

"(Hangzhou) has a very special relationship with Korea," he said. "South Korea's venerated (independence fighter) Mr. Kim Koo led its struggle in Zhejiang province, and the Chinese people provided protection for Mr. Kim."

Park appreciated China's support for South Korean independence fighters, saying she values the long-standing bilateral relationship.

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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