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South Korea accepts last-minute invitation to conference

Saturday, 13 May 2017

SEOUL: South Korea has accepted a last-minute invitation from China to a conference on a new Silk Road, days after a new president took office pledging to engage in discussions with Beijing to ease tension over a US anti-missile system. Chinese President Xi Jinping extended the invitation to the Belt and Road conference in Beijing du­ring a telephone call on Thursday with new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Moon’s spokesman, Yoon Young-chan, said yesterday.

Ties between South Korea and China, which are important trade partners, have been strained by Seoul’s decision to host the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in response to a growing missile threat from North Korea. China has protested against the deployment saying the system’s powerful radar can probe deep into its territory, undermining its security, destabilising the regional security balance and doing little to deter North Korea.

Leaders of 28 countries and senior officials from many more gather in Beijing tomorrow to discuss Xi’s initiative to expand trade links between Asia, Africa and Europe through billions of dollars in infrastructure investment. But until Thursday, South Korea had not been invited. Moon will send a delegation headed by Park Byeong-seug, a ve­teran member of parliament and a senior official of Moon’s liberal Democratic Party, Yoon said.

In their telephone call on Thursday, Moon told Xi he “understands China’s interest in the THAAD deployment and its concerns”, Yoon said earlier. Moon spoke to Xi about the difficulties faced by some South Korean companies doing business in China facing discrimination in retaliation for the THAAD deployment. China denies it has done anything to hurt South Korean businesses.

Source by: Internet

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