WASHINGTON -- The United States said Tuesday it welcomes South Korea and China's decision to improve their ties despite a dispute over missile defense.
Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the State Department, said the move paves the way for greater stability in a region rattled by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
"We certainly welcome that China and the Republic of Korea would have a closer relationship," she said during a regular press briefing. "We tend to think that that is a good thing for the region, and especially, the regional instability, and the worldwide instability that (North Korea) poses."
|US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert (Yonhap)|
Seoul and Beijing announced Tuesday that they had agreed to "expeditiously bring exchanges and cooperation in all areas back onto a normal track." The joint statement came after more than a year of tension over South Korea's decision to deploy the THAAD US missile defense system on its soil.
Beijing argues the system poses a threat to its security interests, while the allies insist it is a purely defensive measure aimed at deterring the North.
"In terms of THAAD, nothing has changed from our position on that. It was an alliance decision on the part of the US and the Republic of Korea," Nauert said. "One of our priorities is not only keeping our own people safe, but keeping our allies safe."
Asked whether the agreement reflects a change in Beijing's stance on Pyongyang, she said, "China, I think, is certainly coming around and recognizing the threat that (North Korea) poses." (Yonhap)