Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

China President Discusses Nuclear Issue with New South Korean Counterpart

China President Discusses Nuclear Issue with New South Korean Counterpart

The impeachment and ouster of Park Geun-hye left a vacuum in South Korea's leadership at a time when tensions on the peninsula rose to the highest in years.

Regional experts have believed for months that North Korea was preparing for its sixth nuclear test and was working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States, presenting U.S. President Donald Trump with perhaps his most pressing security issue.

The deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) in the South has angered China, Seoul's major trading partner, which sees the system's powerful radar as a threat to its security. But challenging Washington over THAAD might be hard for Moon. "The U.S. -South Korea alliance is the foundation of our foreign policy, and will continue to be so". Moon's remark indicates his willingness to renegotiate the agreement, observers said.

"The ultimate goal of sanctions against North Korea is to bring the North to the negotiating table for nuclear disarmament", he added, a sentiment Xi was reported to have agreed with. It's highly unlikely that Moon will pursue the same level of rapprochement that past liberal governments took.

But Mr Moon and his supporters nonetheless find it regrettable that conservative South Korean presidents since Lee Myung-bak did not maintain the Sunshine Policy, as Mr Kohl had done with Ostpolitik.

Moon, however, continues to place importance on the US alliance with South Korea. He has a point: Though the system is an important and needed counter to the growing missile threat from Pyongyang, the action looked like an attempt to circumvent Moon's expressed reservations by creating a fait accompli.

As well as clouding efforts to rein in North Korea's nuclear ambitions, the THAAD deployment has also led to recriminations from Beijing against South Korean companies. Modi invited the South Korean President to India, also expressing hope to hold bilateral talks at upcoming worldwide meetings like G20 summit slated for July.

Abe and Moon also agreed on the importance of meeting directly as soon as possible, as well as holding a summit involving Japan, China and South Korea.

South Korea's new president has vowed to immediately tackle the issues regarding their northern neighbor.

Yoon said that President Moon highly evaluated India's participation in worldwide sanctions against the North.

Yoon Young-kwan, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, is Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Seoul National University.

In the 2015 comfort women agreement, Abe issued an apology over the issue and arranged for ¥1 billion to be deposited into a South Korean foundation for the dwindling survivors. "I would like to closely cooperate with the president to achieve the denuclearisation of North Korea", Mr Abe told Mr Moon.

Although Ms Park's ouster was painful, it also demonstrated the resilience of South Korea's democracy. "We hope the new administration values cooperation with Japan and the USA and develops realistic security and foreign policies".

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