South Korea's National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun defended the deployment of a US missile defense system during talks with a senior Chinese official on Thursday, a day after North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile.
During the meeting with Leung Chun-ying, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Chung also stressed the need for joint efforts to normalize bilateral ties strained over the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in Korea.
"Had there not been the North Korean problem, we wouldn't have needed the THAAD deployment," Chung was quoted by his office as saying. "The North launched another missile yesterday, and we can't just stand here defenselessly."
|South Korea`s National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun (R) meets Leung Chun-ying, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People`s Political Consultative Conference at Chung`s office at the legislature in Seoul on Nov. 30, 2017. (Yonhap)|
In response, Leung said that the two countries should strive together to address their pending issues, Chung's office said.
After a 75-day lull, Pyongyang resumed its provocations by firing off what it claims to have been a new ICBM capable of striking the US mainland, violating U.N. resolutions and drawing global condemnation.
The THAAD issue has been a major thorn in Seoul-Beijing ties, though the two sides agreed to bring their relations back on a normal track in late October.
Beijing believes the THAAD battery could pose a threat to its security interests, while Seoul and Washington argue it is a wholly defensive system designed to counter Pyongyang's evolving missile threats.
Leung arrived here on Tuesday for a four-day visit for talks with top South Korean officials over bilateral relations and other issues of mutual concern. He previously served as the chief executive of Hong Kong from July 2012 to June 2017. (Yonhap)