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Beijing tells Seoul to make a ‘decision’ soon

June 21,2017
Beijing asked Seoul to come to a “political decision” on the issue of the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad, system during a bilateral vice ministerial meeting between the two countries, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry Tuesday.

“During the dialogue, the two countries exchanged deep and frank opinions on policies concerning state affairs and foreign affairs, Korea-China bilateral relations, the Thaad issue, the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” Geng Shuang, spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters at a press briefing following the talks between Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam and his Chinese counterpart Zhang Yesui.

“We hope the Korean side shows political will and decision - keeping its promise - and together with the Chinese side appropriately resolve relevant problems and put efforts into improving and advancing the two countries’ relationship at an early date.”

Seoul and Washington announced a joint decision to deploy the Thaad antimissile battery to Korea last July to defend against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats under the previous Park Geun-hye administration. China has been engaging in a series of retaliatory measures against Korean businesses and its entertainment industry, as well as a ban on group tours to Korea.

Geng said that the two sides agreed “to strengthen communication to the next level” and that “effort has to be put into returning the two countries relations to a path of stable and healthy development.”

The eighth vice ministerial strategic dialogue between Lim and Zhang was held earlier that day in Beijing, and the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the two reviewed preparations for a meeting between the two countries’ leaders on the sidelines of the upcoming Group of 20, or G-20, leaders’ summit in Hamburg, Germany, early next month.

Lim and Zhang discussed efforts made since the launch of the Moon Jae-in administration in communication, including a phone conversation between Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to the ministry. Lim conveyed Moon’s desire to advance the two countries’ relations to a substantive strategic cooperative partnership.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]