Korean officials meet in attempt to repair ties


Moon is scheduled to meet with Abe on Thursday to deliver a personal letter from the new South Korean president.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with a special envoy of new South Korean President Moon Jae In on Friday, telling him that Beijing wants to bring back ties with Seoul on "a normal track". In return, Moon's sending of Lee Hae-chan as a special envoy to China is another sign of both countries' intentions to build bridges.

Also in attendance were China's state councilor Yang Jiechi, as well as foreign minister Wang Yi.

China has strongly opposed the U.S. THAAD anti-missile system deployed in South Korea to counter the threat from North Korea, saying it can spy into its territory, and South Korean companies have been hit in China by a nationalist backlash over the deployment. State media Ecns.cn said that Lee affirmed that South Korea understood China's major concerns and would cooperate with China to remove any obstacles that hinder the development of bilateral ties.

However, the election this month of Moon as president, replacing the ousted Park Geun Hye, has cast doubt over the agreement, which both governments previously had said "resolved (the issue) finally and irreversibly". Also confirmed was cooperation to counter North Korea's nuclear arms and missile threats. China is North Korea's biggest economic partner and source of diplomatic support and has come under heavy pressure to use its influence to rein in the North's missile and nuclear activities.

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China has urged restraint, but as a result of the latest missile test, the Chinese are considering closing the Yalu River Bridge, which is responsible for more than half of North Korea's trade with China, as a way to punish the regime in Pyongyang.

There are signs of possible strains between Washington and Seoul, after Trump said the South Koreans should pay for Thaad and warned he might scrap a trade deal. South Korean businesses have faced boycotts, especially the retail group Lotte which provided the land on which the system is being constructed.

Wang on Thursday reiterated calls for its dismantling.

In recent weeks Beijing and Seoul have signaled a desire to fix relations following the election of Moon, who has taken a friendlier stance toward China than his conservative predecessor.

The secret transportation caused a strong backlash from residents and peace activists who had stood guard beside the entrance road to the golf course to block any further deployment of other THAAD elements.