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


South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Friday that he will take a cautious approach to the issue on the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

Xi's remarks came in a meeting with South Korean special envoy Lee Hae-chan, who was dispatched to Beijing by new President Moon Jae-in on a mission to reopen contacts and seek a way out of the current impasse that has hit South Korean businesses hard. At the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi urged both sides "to consolidate the mutual political trust and properly handle divergence on the basis of mutual understanding and mutual respect".

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system positioned by the US in South Korea has become a bone of contention between the two Asian countries.

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.

Lee also said Chinese officials were anxious THAAD would open the way for increased USA military buildup on the peninsula and that they were concerned a larger network of US missile defense would be subsequently deployed. McCain has spoken out about the economic retaliation China has taken against South Korea for hosting the system.

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More South Koreans have become wary since U.S. President Donald Trump had said Seoul should pay $1 billion for THAAD after it was already in operation.

The United States and South Korea have said the deployment is aimed purely at defending against any threat from North Korea, which experts have thought for months is preparing for its sixth nuclear test in defiance of United Nations sanctions. Shares in AmorePacific, its largest cosmetics firm, were up 0.9 percent.

China has been infuriated by the USA deployment of the Thaad system in South Korea, saying it was a threat to its security and would do nothing to ease tensions with Pyongyang.

According to the Gallup Korea poll, 87 per cent South Koreans forecast that Moon will do well in his management of state affairs during his five-year presidency. His envoy for Russian Federation will leave next week.

Lee earlier said Moon had sent him to China to keep communications open "at a critical time".