China's Xi says willing to help end rift with South Korea

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has met with a special envoy sent by new South Korean President Moon Jae-in as the two countries attempt to fix relations damaged by China's strong objections to the deployment of a high-tech American missile defense system in South Korea meant to guard against North Korean threats.

Regarding the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Wang said China is willing to work with all sides on more effective measures, and that China insists on solving the issue through dialogue and is determined to safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula.

They were expected to discuss ways of containing North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons activities as well as the economic fallout over the deployment in South Korea of the US missile defence system called THAAD.

Moon made the remarks at a meeting with floor leaders of the five major parties, including the ruling Democratic Party, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, the centrist People's Party, the minor conservative Righteous Party and the minor liberal Justice Party, Xinhua news agency quoted presidential spokesman Park Su-hyun as saying.

Lee said South Korean President Moon Jae-In had dispatched him to China to keep communications open between the two countries "at a critical time".

THAAD is aimed at guarding against threats from nuclear-armed North Korea, but China fears it will upset the regional security balance. China is North Korea's biggest economic partner and source of diplomatic support and has come under heavy pressure to use its influence to rein in the North's missile and nuclear activities.

Thaad has been put into operation in the South Korean territory in case of a potential attack by North Korea, amid a recent escalation of tensions in the peninsula.

Wang on Thursday reiterated calls for its dismantling.

On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Lee that Seoul must "remove the obstacles that have been placed on the road to good relations between our two countries".

In recent weeks Beijing and Seoul have signalled a desire to fix relations following the election of Moon, who has taken a friendlier stance toward China than his conservative predecessor.

For his part, Lee said Moon asked him to express his "gratitude" to Xi for his message of congratulations after the election.

The golf course, which the Lotte Group, the country's fifth-biggest conglomerate, had owned, was designated as a site for THAAD that Seoul and Washington agreed in July a year ago to deploy in South Korea. "It should not hope to have it both ways".

He called on both sides to consolidate the mutual political trust and properly handle divergence on the basis of mutual understanding and mutual respect.

South Korea's special envoy Lee Hae-chan, left, meets China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, Wednesday, May 19, 2017.

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