Park to meet Putin at economic forum in Russia

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Park to meet Putin at economic forum in Russia

President Park Geun-hye will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month to discuss pending bilateral issues, the Blue House said Wednesday.

The controversy surrounding Korea’s recent decision to allow the U.S. deployment of an advanced missile defense system is expected to be addressed at the meeting.

The Blue House said Park will travel to Vladivostok, Russia, at the invitation of Putin to attend an economic forum from Sept. 2 to 3. She will give a keynote address at the main session of the Eastern Economic Forum. Russia launched the annual forum last year and the event is attended by government officials and businessmen from Korea, Japan, China and Southeast Asian nations.

Park will hold a summit with Putin on the sidelines of her trip and discuss bilateral and regional issues, the Blue House said in a press release.

“Including North Korea’s nuclear arms program,” it said, “Korea Peninsula affairs and global issues will be discussed.”

While no specific mention of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system was made in the press release, the issue is expected to be addressed at the summit. Although Seoul and Washington said the Thaad deployment is to deter North Korean threats, Beijing and Moscow have strongly protested, claiming the placement of the American missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula poses a risk to their security and contributes to regional instability. China and Russia worry that the advanced radar accompanying the missile-defense system would be used to spy on them.

Putin has publicly protested the Thaad deployment. The Voice of America reported last month that China and Russia submitted a joint statement, signed by Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, to the United Nations. In the statement, they said that the Aegis ballistic missile defense system in Europe and Thaad in Korea will severely infringe upon the strategic security interests of countries in the region. The upcoming summit will be Park’s fourth with the Russian leader since taking office. Park’s visit to Russia will also serve to reciprocate Putin’s visit to Korea in November 2013.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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