Park will attend G-20 in China next month

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Park will attend G-20 in China next month

President Park Geun-hye will attend the Group of 20 Summit in China next month, the Blue House said Thursday, prompting anticipation for a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping amid the strained Seoul-Beijing relationship over the planned deployment of a U.S. antimissile system to Korea.

Following her visit to Russia on Sept. 2 to 3, Park will attend the G-20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, on Sept. 4 and 5, the Blue House said. She then will travel to Laos to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit from Sept. 7 to 8 and continue on an official visit to the county on Sept. 8 and 9.

The week of presidential diplomacy is planned amid the continuing controversy over the Park administration’s decision to allow the U.S. military to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) battery to Korea. While Seoul and Washington stressed that the move is to deter North Korean nuclear and missile threats, Beijing and Moscow said the deployment seriously infringes upon the security balance of the region, as they fear the system’s powerful radar could be used to spy on their territories.

While the Blue House said no bilateral meeting was fixed with Xi, speculations grew about the possibility, as it is customary for the host nation’s leader to meet separately with attending leaders.

Reports were already made that Xi will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, and sensitive security issues concerning the region, including China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea and the U.S. deployment of Thaad to Korea, are expected to be addressed.

If Park will meet with Xi, it will be the first Korea-China summit since she made the decision to allow the Thaad deployment.

Park will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok ahead of visiting China for the G-20 summit.

Putin and Xi have publicly protested the Thaad deployment. Indeed, a joint statement signed by the two leaders was submitted to the United Nations last month.

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.

Aside from the security issue, Park will discuss policy cooperation for economic growth with world leaders. Efforts to strengthen the financial security net and fight trade protectionism will also be discussed at this year’s G-20 summit, themed “Towards an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy.”

In Laos, Park will attend the series of ASEAN meetings. The 10-member association is Korea’s second largest trade partner.

Korea-ASEAN trade recorded $120 billion last year, and Korea maintains a strategic partnership with the group.

The ASEAN-plus-three summit will take place on Sept. 7, where Park will meet with leaders of ASEAN countries, China and Japan. On Sept. 8, she will attend the East Asia Summit to address regional issues.

Following the series of multilateral conferences, Park will start her two-day official visit to Laos on Sept. 8 at the invitation of Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachith.

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