China's Xi says willing to put South Korea ties back on track

China's Xi says willing to put South Korea ties back on track

China's Xi says willing to put South Korea ties back on track

That echoed sentiments expressed Thursday by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who said relations were at a "crossroads" and told Lee he hoped South Korea would "correct the problems we have encountered".

Ties soured following the deployment of the American THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, Xi told Lee: "China is willing to strengthen communication with the new South Korean government". A senior foreign policy adviser to Chinese President Xi stressed the importance of relations with South Korea on Friday as the two countries attempt to mend a rift in ties over the deployment of a US missile-defense system to guard against North Korean threats. 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. Xi, in his turn, invited Moon to visit Beijing. China retaliated against the decision to allow the system by suspending Korean retail giant Lotte Mart's stores in its territory, banning package tours and imposing stricter rules for sales of Korean cosmetics products.

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Seoul and Washington have argued that the missile system is aimed at North Korean aggression, while China sees it as a threat to its own security because its radar can peer deep into northeastern China.

Wang on Thursday reiterated calls for its dismantling.

To his credit, President Moon went on to say that certain conditions must be met in order for the two sides to be able to sit down with each other for talks - namely the discontinuation of North Korea's nuclear program.

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Left-leaning Moon and Xi spoke on the phone last week and both agreed that denuclearising the North was a "common goal" between them, Moon's spokesman said.

The South Korean leader had pledged to review the hasty deployment of THAAD at a golf course in central South Korea.

The ROK-China relationship is significant for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula as well as Northeast Asia, Lee said, stressing that the ROK is willing to enhance pragmatic cooperation with China and push forward the bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation.

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