China's Xi calls for S. Korea ties to get back on track

Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army

In an apparent fence-mending move, South Korea's new President Moon Jae-In dispatched his envoy Lee Hae-Chan to China after his election victory last week.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he's willing to help ties with South Korea return to a "normal track" amid a rift over Seoul's deployment of a high-tech USA missile-defense system to guard against North Korean threats.

"Your visit to China to step up the communication on important issues related to bilateral relations... shows President Moon and his administration have attached high importance to our ties", Xi said.

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

"China highly regards relations with South Korea as does South Korea", Xi was quoted as saying.

More news: Experts question North Korea role in WannaCry cyberattack

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who officially assumed office on May 10, has repeatedly criticized the previous government under impeached leader Park Geun-hye for agreeing to host the THAAD system without seeking parliamentary approval.

China wants to put ties with South Korea back on a "normal track", President Xi Jinping said on Friday, but Beijing also urged Seoul to respect its concerns and resolve tensions over the deployment of a United States anti-missile system that it opposes. The deployment of the THAAD system, which is created to intercept short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles at the terminal incoming stage, has been criticized by Beijing as undermining China's security interests.

The North has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the programme is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

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.

Before leaving Seoul for Beijing, Lee said Moon could meet Xi as early as July at a Group of 20 summit in Germany, while a separate meeting could also be possible in August.

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