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Interview: S.Korea, China need to increase communications on THAAD issue -- opposition lawmaker

Xinhua, January 12, 2017 Adjust font size:

A South Korean congressman said his country and China need to increase communications on the issue involving the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea.

Rep. Song Young-gil of the biggest opposition Minjoo Party said in an interview with Xinhua on Tuesday that the two countries, which he described as "brother nations", must meet face to face and have dialogues to resolve any trouble that South Korea and China may encounter in developing the bilateral strategic partnership.

Seoul and Washington abruptly announced a decision in July last year to deploy one THAAD battery by the end of this year, triggering strong opposition from China and Russia as the U.S. missile defense system's X-band radar can peer into territories of the two countries.

In the latest development, China on Jan. 5 urged communication with South Korea to find a proper solution to its THAAD deployment.

China hopes the solution can accommodate the concerns of both sides, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at a routine press briefing.

"We urge parties concerned to stop THAAD deployment, and refrain from going too far on the wrong track," Geng said.

According to Song, President Park Geun-hye had been welcomed by Chinese people for her China-friendly moves since she took office in February 2013, but the THAAD installation decision caused troubles in bilateral ties.

The THAAD issue will inevitably be relayed to the next government, and the National Assembly needs to discuss the issue to come up with possible alternatives, the fourth-term congressman said.

President Park is now waiting for the constitutional court's ruling on the impeachment bill which was passed at the parliament on Dec. 9. The court's deliberation on the motion is widely forecast to be completed by mid-March. If Park is permanently removed from office, a presidential election must be held in 60 days.

Suspicions were also raised here on whether the U.S. missile shield can protect South Korea from missile attacks from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The THAAD interceptors, which are designed to shoot down incoming missiles flying at an altitude of 40-150 km, would not intercept over 1,000 DPRK missiles targeting South Korea that travel at an altitude of less than 40 km.

The capital city Seoul and its suburban metropolitan area, which accommodate about half of its total 50 million population, are outside of the THAAD's intercepting range as it is installed in southeastern South Korea.

"The Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye governments only sought to besiege and isolate North Korea (DPRK). It caused resistance from the North, which advanced its nuclear capability and strengthened military confrontation," said Song.

Pyongyang will dismantle its nuclear program only when it is assured of security and safety by normalizing diplomatic relations between the DPRK and the United States and transforming the inter-Korean truce into a peace treaty.

"In the end, the U.S. holds the key. The U.S. should sign a non-aggression treaty with the North, promising to lift economic sanctions in return for its abandonment of nuclear program," Song said.

The lawmaker stressed the importance of dialogue with the DPRK, condemning the so-called "strategic patience" that he claimed had helped Pyongyang advance nuclear and missile capabilities while being "neglected" by South Korea and the international community.

South Korea and the international society, Song added, should help the DPRK open and reform itself, as the DPRK issues cannot be resolved in a single day. Endi