China's Xi says willing to help end rift with South Korea

Richard Drew — The Associated Press file

Richard Drew — The Associated Press file

Relations between Beijing and Seoul, strained by disagreement over South Korea's hosting of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, have taken on a more conciliatrory tone with the election earlier this month of President Moon Jae-in.

Some believe South Korea will first try to address China's dissatisfaction regarding THAAD, and then use it as leverage and try to persuade China to cooperate on bringing about North Korea's denuclearization.

Moon made the remarks at a meeting with floor leaders of the five major parties, including the ruling Democratic Party, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, the centrist People's Party, the minor conservative Righteous Party and the minor liberal Justice Party, presidential spokesman Park Su-hyun told reporters.

In December 2015, the two countries agreed to "finally and irreversibly" resolve the issue of Korean comfort women who were forced to serve as prostitutes at brothels for the Japanese military in wartime.

China "is committed to resolving any issues through dialogue and coordination, which is in the fundamental interests of both countries and the region", Xi was quoted as saying by China's official Xinhua News Agency.

However, Xi's comments helped push up the shares of several South Korean companies that rely on the spending of Chinese tourists, whose visits have fallen sharply amid the THAAD dispute.

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"We had a serious discussion but I find it uncomfortable to say more about it", Moon said, adding that both sides expressed their positions.

South Korea has said it needs Thaad to defend itself from North Korea, but China considers its radars a threat to regional stability.

Japan "wants to coordinate closely with the new South Korean administration to tackle a variety of issues and establish a future-oriented relationship", Kishida told Moon.

At the same time, leading South Korean automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors cut vehicle production in China as their sales plummeted.

"Stopping the deployment of THAAD is the bottom line of China", the newspaper said.

No doubt, considering the threatening nature of North Korea, which is certainly rising day by day, it is more important for the United States and South Korea to improve their ties as quick as possible.

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