South Korea's new leader discusses North Korea, defence system with China's Xi


South Korea's new President Moon Jae-in spoke to Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday and said North Korea needs to cease making provocations before tensions over the deployment of a US anti-missile system in the South can be resolved.

Ties between Seoul and Beijing have soured over the South's deployment of a controversial U.S. anti-missile system aimed at guarding against threats from the nuclear-armed North.

Park, who was ousted and faces trial over a corruption and influence-peddling scandal, favored a tough stance against the North, including punishing United Nations economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

Moon said in his first speech as president soon after he was sworn in on Wednesday that he would immediately begin efforts to defuse security tensions on the Korean peninsula and negotiate with Washington and Beijing to ease the THAAD row.

North Korea is believed to be preparing for a sixth nuclear test and is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States, presenting Trump with perhaps his most pressing security issue.

But ties have plummeted.

Beijing sees the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, newly installed in the South meant to guard against threats from the North, as a threat to its own military capabilities and has slapped a series of measures against South Korean businesses seen as economic retaliation.

"Sanctions against North Korea are also a means to bring the North to the negotiating table aimed at eliminating its nuclear weapons", Yoon told a briefing, adding that Xi indicated his agreement.

Moon advocated a two-track approach of pressure and sanctions toward North Korea to resolve the country's nuclear issue in a comprehensive, staged way.

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Seoul and former colonial power Tokyo are both targeted by the North, but are in dispute over history and Park did not visit Japan while in office.

Xi and Moon agreed to meet face-to-face at the earliest possible date, while re-affirming their common goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Turning to global issues, Moon asked for Britain's support in denuclearizing North Korea.

Moon also expressed hopes the two countries would be able to cooperate in developing East Asia, including extending a natural gas pipeline from Siberia to South Korea, the Blue House said.

In his conversation with Abe, Moon pointed out that most South Koreans don't accept an agreement Japan made with the Park administration in December 2015 to compensate women who were forced to work in military brothels during World War II.

Moon said he planned to send a special envoy to Russian Federation in the near future.

Beijing opposes the system, arguing that its radar systems allow the USA and South Korea to spy on nearby Chinese military, and has imposed unofficial sanctions on South Korean companies operating in China.

The North has staged two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since past year in its quest to deliver a nuclear warhead to "imperialist enemy", the US.