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(LEAD) S. Korea, China agree to bring exchange, cooperation back on 'normal' track

All Headlines 10:38 October 31, 2017

(ATTN: RECASTS headline; ADDS details)

SEOUL, Oct. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and China have agreed to put their bilateral relations back on the right track, apparently normalizing ties that have been soured over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

They reiterated their long-held stance on issues related to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system deployed in South Korea but agreed to continue to discuss ways to resolve the differences going forward.

"The two sides attached great importance to the Korea-China relationship and decided to push for the further development of the strategic cooperative partnership," the foreign ministry said in a press release.

"Both shared the view that strengthening exchanges and cooperation between Korea and China serves their common interests and agreed to expeditiously bring exchanges and cooperation in all areas back on a normal track," it added.

The agreement came after South Korea and China saw their ties frayed over the THAAD controversy.

Since Seoul announced the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system on its soil in July last year, China has demanded the reversal of the decision suspecting it is part of the U.S.-led MD and claims it would hurt its strategic security interest.

In apparent protest, Beijing has taken what appear to be retaliatory steps against South Korean companies and products in various areas.

(LEAD) S. Korea, China agree to bring exchange, cooperation back on 'normal' track - 1

The two were apparently unable to completely resolve the prolonged dispute over the THAAD U.S. missile defense system deployed here, but said they will continue to find a solution through dialogue.

"The Korean side took note of China's position and concern regarding the THAAD issue, and made it clear that the THAAD system deployed in Korea is, pursuant to the original purpose of its deployment, not directed at a third country," the ministry said.

"The Chinese side reiterated that it opposes the deployment... At the same time, The Chinese side took note of the position stated by the Korean side," it added. "The two agreed to engage in communication on THAAD-related issues."

Seoul and Beijing also reaffirmed their joint efforts to peacefully denuclearize North Korea.

"The two sides reaffirmed the principles of realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and peacefully resolving the North Korean issue, and reiterated that they would continuously promote the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue through all diplomatic measures," it said.

"To this end, both sides agreed to further enhance strategic communication and cooperation."

bdk@yna.co.kr

kokobj@yna.co.kr
(END)

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