New South Korean president vows to address North Korea, broader tensions 'urgently'

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 20, 2017

Moon came to power with a promise to review the system and he told Xi that North Korea must cease making provocations before tension over the deployment could be resolved, officials said.

North Korea has unveiled what it claims are satellite images of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system which was deployed by the U.S. military in South Korea, Seoul officials said on Thursday.

South Korea's new president launched worldwide efforts to defuse tension over North Korea's weapons development on Thursday, urging both dialogue and sanctions while also aiming to ease Chinese anger about a US anti-missile system.

Many see Moon's manner as a refreshing break from his disgraced, jailed predecessor Park Geun-hye, whom critics saw as aloof and autocratic.

Moon told Xi during the 40-minute call that he plans to send a special delegation to Beijing for talks on both topics, Moon's office said in a statement. "If the conditions shape up, I will go to Pyongyang".

US officials have expressed concern that Moon's advocacy of engagement with North Korea could undercut USA efforts to increase pressure through further isolation and sanctions.

"Sanctions against North Korea are also a means to bring the North to the negotiating table aimed at eliminating its nuclear weapons", Yoon told a briefing, adding that Xi indicated his agreement.

The spokesman said: "The Prime Minister called the South Korean President Moon Jae-in earlier this morning to congratulate him on his recent electoral success".

North Korea is believed to be preparing for a sixth nuclear test and is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States, presenting U.S. President Donald Trump with perhaps his most pressing security issue.

Thaad was deployed to South Korea by the U.S. in response to North Korea's increased missile and nuclear tests but the defence system has drawn sharp opposition from China and Russian Federation as their territories are within the system's range, according to CNN.

The U.S. and North Korea aren't now involved in any diplomacy.

In a televised inaugural speech, he said he will be on the move for peace on the Korean Peninsula, vowing to visit Pyongyang, under right conditions.

"I take this office empty-handed, and I will leave the office empty-handed", Moon said. The country hosts some 28,000 USA forces.

South Korea and the United States began deploying the THAAD system in March and it has since become operational.

Given that, the prospect for improved ties between Seoul and Beijing isn't clear, with some saying China won't back down until it gets a major concession on the system's deployment and others saying China is also eager for improved ties and will settle for less as long as it can save face on the missile-defense issue.

In his speech, Moon, 64, also pledged to sever what he described as the collusive ties between business and government that have plagued many of South Korea's family-run conglomerates, known as chaebol, and vowed to be incorruptible.

China has also denied it is doing anything to retaliate against South Korean businesses.

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