Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Korea's Moon to send delegation to China amid frayed ties

"We are well aware of China's concerns and concerns about the deployment of the THAAD", Moon said.

The White House said the two agreed to continue to strengthen the alliance between their countries.

The South Korean statement said Trump said North Korea's nuclear problem was hard, but one that could be resolved.

Beijing has been upset by the installation of US missile-defense system in South Korea that was approved by Moon's conservative predecessor as a hedge against North Korea.

U.S. officials have expressed concern that Moon's advocacy of engagement with North Korea could undercut USA efforts to increase pressure through further isolation and sanctions.

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At the same time, South Korea is embroiled in disputes with China over a USA missile defence system, and Japan over wartime history. His appointment requires parliamentary approval.

Moon came into office Wednesday, only one day after he won the rare presidential by-election caused by the March 10 ouster of his conservative predecessor, Park Geun-hye, due to corruption allegations.

It remains to be seen whether Seoul's new government might reverse the deployment following a re-think promised by Moon's Democratic Party.

"If needed I will fly directly to Washington".

He also said he was prepared to go to Pyongyang "if the conditions are right".

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Moon told Xi that it would be easier to settle the missile-defense issue if North Korea wasn't engaging in provocations, the statement said.

"I will take the helm empty-handed and will retire empty-handed", he said.

Moon Jae-in also spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday afternoon, according to a separate statement by the Blue House. Beijing hopes that the new South Korean government attaches importance to China's major concerns and takes real steps to promote the healthy and stable development of ties, Xi said.

Ties between Seoul and Beijing have soured over the South's deployment of a controversial United States anti-missile system aimed at guarding against threats from the nuclear-armed North. The THAAD is increasingly opposed among many South Koreans, particularly based on Trump's calls for them to pay for it. Moon has said he wants to review that decision. His position conflicts with that of U.S. President Donald Trump, who seeks to increase pressure on Pyongyang through further isolation and sanctions.

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