China presses South Korea on THAAD missile system

South Korean residents protest North Korea's Kim Jong Un

Trump rammed it in there before Moon's election precisely to preempt Moon from taking any steps to stop THAAD.

But Moon also has to navigate a complex web of regional issues.

Given that, the prospect for improved ties between Seoul and Beijing isn't clear, with some saying China won't back down until it gets a major concession on the system's deployment and others saying China is also eager for improved ties and will settle for less as long as it can save face on the missile-defense issue.

They agreed to meet face-to-face at the earliest opportunity, and reaffirmed their common goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Yoon added.

During Thursday's call, Xi reaffirmed China's opposition to the THAAD deployment, Moon's office said. A prompt resumption of talks is necessary given the slew of outstanding issues between the two countries - including North Korea's nuclear ambitions and the deployment of the USA missile defense system THAAD to South Korea against that threat - which Beijing is deeply opposed to.

"I am well aware of the concern and fear of the Chinese about the THAAD deployment", Moon was quoted as saying when Xi explained the Chinese stance on the matter. In the call, Xi asked Moon to visit Beijing, Moon's office said.

During his call with Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe, the two leaders agreed that their countries must not let their hard history hamper co-operation in dealing with North Korea's nuclear programme, Moon's office said.

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The previous Park Geun-Hye administration had introduced state-authored history textbooks at middle and high schools, arguing that some existing tomes reflected left-leaning and pro-North Korea ideologies.

Prior to that, a "comfort women" statue was erected in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, which also irked Tokyo. He has said he would be prepared to go to Pyongyang "if the conditions are right".

Moon told Abe that most Koreans could not accept the agreement, according to the Blue House, while Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Abe told him it was "extremely important" to implement it.

"President Moon held his first telephone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Modi since his inauguration".

China says the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) undermines its security, as its powerful radar can probe deep into its territory.

North Korea demanded on Friday the extradition of South Korea's spy chief, accusing him of being a mastermind of a plot to assassinate its leader, Kim Jong Un, with a biochemical weapon.

The North's vice foreign minister Han Song-Ryol briefed foreign diplomats in Pyongyang Thursday on the alleged plot, calling it "the most vicious challenge and a declaration of war".

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