Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

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

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

China says its influence has been exaggerated and has called on South Korea and the U.S.to end large-scale wargames seen as threatening by North Korea in exchange for the North suspending its missile launches and nuclear tests.

South Korean special envoy Lee Hae-chan (C) arrives at the Great Hall of the People for a meeting with China's President Xi Jinping (unseen), in Beijing, China May 19, 2017.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he's willing to help ties with South Korea return to a "normal track" amid a rift over Seoul's deployment of a high-tech USA missile-defense system to guard against North Korean threats.

Lee gave Xi a hand-written letter from the popular, liberal Moon, who easily won election earlier this month to replace Park Geun-hye, who was ousted in a corruption scandal.

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Xi's conciliatory tone came a day after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Lee that Seoul must "remove the obstacles that have been placed on the road to good relations between our two countries".

The envoy said at the outset of the meeting, which was open to the media, that the two countries "have in common a practical interest to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue".

He also said he hopes to address these issues together with the new South Korean government.

Hopes are rising in Beijing that Seoul would reconsider the deployment of USA missile defense on the peninsula since Moon was elected.

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During the talks, Abe also referred to a protest lodged Wednesday by Tokyo with Seoul after a South Korean research vessel was spotted operating in Japan's exclusive economic zone west of the Takeshima islets without obtaining Tokyo's consent, according to a Japanese government source.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who criticized the latest test-firing, said Pyongyang's actions were "unacceptable", but he also appeared to hold out an olive branch to Kim. In his inaugural address, he promised to "negotiate sincerely" with the US and China to resolve the issue. South Korean companies have claimed that Beijing took retaliatory measures against them, with the flow of tourists from China to South Korea dropping dramatically.

The long-disputed THAAD deployment was constantly opposed by China, which has urged a peaceful solution to the Korean crisis.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Ministry, stated during yesterday's press conference that relations between China and South Korea were at a "crucial" stage, and China expected Lee's visit would promote mutual trust, help to properly resolve disputes and thus improve China-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations.

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