South Korean leader Moon discuss North Korea with China's Xi: Blue House

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 20, 2017

Moon responded that he's aware of China's concerns and asked Xi to help resolve the difficulties facing South Korean businesses in China, it said.

As he took the oath of office Wednesday, Moon Jae-in said he was open to visiting Pyongyang under the right conditions to discuss its nuclear program.

The White House said the two agreed to continue to strengthen the alliance between their countries.

"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.

Regional experts have believed for months that North Korea is preparing for its sixth nuclear test and was 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. China has been upset by the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system that was approved by Moon's conservative predecessor as a hedge against North Korea, placing Seoul in a hard spot between its closest military ally in Washington and its largest trading partner in Beijing.

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.

"The talk about a South-North summit is a little premature, but regardless of that, there's a need for a summit meeting", Suh said. His appointment requires parliamentary approval.

Moon assumed presidential duties early in the morning after the National Election Commission finished counting Tuesday's votes and declared him victor of the special election necessitated by the ousting of conservative Park Geun-hye, whose downfall and jailing on corruption charges is one of the most turbulent stretches in the nation's recent political history.

"I will urgently try to solve the security crisis", Moon said in the domed rotunda hall of the parliament building. "If the conditions shape up, I will go to Pyongyang".

Japan has been concerned that Moon will take a tough line on feuds stemming from the bitter legacy of its 1910-1945 colonisation of the Korean peninsula and could fray ties at a time when cooperation on North Korea is vital.

South Korea's past decade of conservative rule has encouraged smooth relations with the U.S. Moon's more liberal approach could fuel tensions, as happened under a liberal South Korean government in the 2000s.

In a sign of Washington's growing concern about the North, the Central Intelligence Agency announced Wednesday its establishment of an integrated "Korea Mission Center".

During Thursday's call, Xi reaffirmed China's opposition to the THAAD deployment, Moon's office said.

Moon also received similar congratulatory calls from Japanese and Indian leaders on Thursday. Xi said China was willing to handle disputes with South Korea "appropriately" on the basis of mutual trust and understanding. To his rivals, Moon said, "We are partners who must lead a new Republic of Korea".

Moon said in his first speech as president on Wednesday he would immediately begin efforts to defuse security fears on the Korean peninsula and would negotiate with Washington and Beijing to ease tensions over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in the South.

China says the system does little to curb the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes, which it has been pressing ahead with in defiance of USA pressure and United Nations sanctions. Moon made a campaign vow to reconsider THAAD.

It wasn't clear whether Moon used the conversation to call for a renegotiation of the deal.

While South Korea, China and Japan all share worry about North Korea, ties between South Korea and China have been strained by South Korea's decision to install a US anti-missile system in defence against the North.

Moon's pick for National Intelligence Service chief is Suh Hoon, a longtime intelligence official Moon said would be the right man to push reforms at NIS, which has always been accused of meddling in domestic politics.

The U.S. and North Korea aren't now involved in any diplomacy. The American participants typically report their observations to the US administration.

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