SEOUL: Chinese leader Xi Jinping and new South Korean president Moon Jae-In agreed Thursday that denuclearising North Korea was a “common goal” between them, Moon’s office said.
Ties between Seoul and Beijing have soured over the South’s deployment of a controversial US anti-missile system aimed at guarding against threats from the nuclear-armed North.
China sees the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system as a threat to its own military capability and has slapped a series of measures against South Korean businesses seen as economic retaliation.
In their first phone conversation, the two leaders “agreed that denuclearising the Korean peninsula is the two countries’ common goal,” Moon’s spokesman Yoon Young-Chan told reporters.
Moon, who took office on Wednesday, favours engagement with the North—whose key diplomatic backer is China—to bring it to the negotiating table over its nuclear and missile ambitions.
He has previously expressed ambivalence over the THAAD system and told Xi he was “well aware” of Chinese concerns about it, calling for bilateral talks to “increase understanding over the issue.”
During the 40-minute conversation he also proposed sending a special delegation to Beijing that will “exclusively discuss the THAAD and the North’s nuclear issues,” Yoon said.
Xi officially invited Moon to visit Beijing, Yoon added.