South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae expressed dismay Saturday over what it called "false" reports by a Japanese newspaper that suggested a possible crack in the South Korea-U.S. alliance.
The rare rejection by Cheong Wa Dae came after Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported that the U.S. has urged South Korea to allow complete deployment of the THAAD U.S. missile defense system here before the year's end.
Quoting unidentified U.S. sources, the Japanese daily said such a request was filed by Thomas Shannon, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, during his trip to Seoul earlier this month.
Yoon Young-chan, the chief press secretary for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, flatly dismissed the report, calling it "incorrect."
"The Asahi Shimbun's report that U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon demanded the deployment of the THAAD before the year's end in a meeting with our government officials is not true," the Cheong Wa Dae official said in a released statement.
The Japanese newspaper earlier claimed the South Korean presidential office had refused to extend a warm welcome to U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), forcing him to cancel his trip to Seoul.
Yoon also called the earlier report "false."
"Cheong Wa Dae expresses its deep regrets against the news outlet that has repeatedly published false reports about Undersecretary Shannon, following its report on Sen. McCain," he said.
South Korea temporarily suspended the THAAD deployment, citing a need for an environmental impact assessment of the U.S. missile shield.
Two THAAD interceptor launchers and the system's radar have already been deployed here, but South Korean President Moon Jae-in earlier said the original agreement with the U.S. was to deploy one launcher in 2017 and an additional five in 2018.
Still, Moon said the temporary suspension of the deployment did not mean any change in his country's decision to host the U.S. missile shield, which is aimed at protecting some 28,000 U.S. troops stationed here, along with the country itself. (Yonhap)
Kim Su-a firstname.lastname@example.org
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