South offers trilateral talks over Thaad deployment

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South offers trilateral talks over Thaad deployment

South Korea has proposed holding three-way discussions with the United States and China over the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) here that is strongly opposed by Beijing, an informed source said Wednesday.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the proposal was made at a bilateral summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, held on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, early last month.

Xi did not offer any immediate answer at the summit, according to the source. China has apparently remained silent.

The Blue House refused to confirm, saying it would be “inappropriate” for it to release details of Moon’s talks with other heads of state.

South Korea-China relations have been on the wane after Seoul agreed to the deployment of the Thaad missile defense system to the country last year. The allies began deploying the missile shield early in the year.

Beijing reacted by placing de facto import restrictions on many South Korean products, including popular cosmetics products, while also prohibiting group tours of its people to South Korea, which once accounted for a large portion of foreign tourists to the country.

Seoul and Washington insist that Thaad is a completely defensive system that is a necessary part of their joint efforts to rein in North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile technologies.

The North has staged seven missile tests since the Moon Jae-in administration took office in May, with its two latest launches involving intercontinental ballistic missiles, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

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