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(LEAD) China's nuke envoy to visit S. Korea next week

All Headlines 21:42 April 06, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS more details in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) -- China's top nuclear envoy will visit South Korea next week to discuss North Korea's nuclear provocations and the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system here, Seoul's foreign ministry said Thursday.

During a five-day stay here that starts on Monday, Wu Dawei will hold a series of meetings with his South Korean counterpart Kim Hong-kyun including the North's imminent nuke test and other issues, according to the ministry.

The meeting between the chief nuclear envoys from South Korea and China came in four months after they met in Beijing in December.

Tensions run high amid speculation that the North may carry out a major provocation including an additional nuclear test in time for the Trump-Xi meetings scheduled for Thursday and Friday at the U.S. leader's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

China's top nuclear envoy may also deliver his country's opposition to the installation of the missile defense system, called the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) here.

Last year, South Korea decided to host the THAAD on its soil despite China's fierce opposition. Relations between them have since deteriorated as China launched retaliatory measures by turning back imports from South Korea, ordering the suspension of South Korean businesses in China, and canceling cultural and entertainment events.

The Chinese officials are said to have a plan to meet with presidential hopefuls, including leading presidential candidates -- Moon Jae-in of the largest Democratic Party and Ahn Cheol-soo of the center-left People's Party, diplomatic sources said.

The Chinese official's visit will also come as the top nuclear envoys of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan agreed to closely cooperate in coping with North Korea's latest missile test and jointly brace for additional provocations.

Earlier in the day, Kim Hong-kyun, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at the South Korean foreign ministry, talked to his U.S. and Japanese counterparts -- Joseph Yun and Kenji Kanasugi -- in separate telephone calls, according to the ministry.

The talks came a day after the North fired a ballistic missile from its eastern port of Sinpo into the East Sea. Experts see it as an attempt to set the tone for the summit between U.S. President Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping later this week.

"They agreed to closely cooperate in drawing up countermeasures including actions of their own and those through the U.N. Security Council, while making thorough preparations against the North's additional provocations," it added.

sam@yna.co.kr
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