South Korea is pushing to arrange reciprocal visits by the leaders of South Korea and China as the two countries are mending ties frayed by the deployment of a US missile defense system, its top diplomat said Monday.
“(The government) plans to push to reinforce exchange, cooperation and strategic cooperative partnership with China by reinvigorating high-level personnel exchange, including (President Moon Jae-in’s) top-level visit to China by the end of this year and the Chinese leader’s South Korea visit next year,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha said in a report submitted to the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee.
|Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha speaks at the National Assembly on Monday. (Yonhap)|
Last week the neighbors reached a broad agreement to end more than one year of diplomatic friction over the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea.
She said the government will work with China so that the deployment issue would not impede bilateral relations. It will also further step up cooperation with its neighbor to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue in a peaceful manner, she noted.
Kang also hinted at Moon’s possible visit to Japan. The government “will push for the leader’s trip to Japan on the occasion of a Japan-hosted summit meeting of the three countries,” she said. Japan is reportedly pushing to host a much delayed trilateral meeting with South Korea and China by the end of this year.
Seoul will also review “ultra powerful” punitive measures against North Korea, such as shutting off the oil supply to the country and a ban on the country’s export of workers, in the event of further military provocations, the foreign minister said.
South Korea plans to capitalize on the country’s hosting of the 2018 Winter Olympics to secure international support and the momentum to improve relations with North Korea and denuclearize the country, she added.
Bickering erupted between ruling and opposition party lawmakers during the committee’s meeting as opposition members denounced South Korea’s recent pledges made in the agreement with China.
They said South Korea’s promises that it will not deploy additional parts of the THAAD system, will not join the U.S.
Missile Defense and will not expand its military alliance with the U.S. into a trilateral alliance including Japan amount to giving up sovereign rights.
“These are what the government has said openly and repeatedly and what are needed for national interest and security,” Kang defended the announcement.
Asked whether Seoul will not install additional THAAD components in any case, she said further deployment “is not being considered for now.” (Yonhap)