UPDATE : 2019.4.18 THU 10:12
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FM dismisses Chinese media's calls to restrict THAAD operations

South Korea's foreign minister on Monday dismissed Chinese media's call to restrict the operations of a U.S. missile defense system here as part of efforts to settle a yearlong bilateral feud over the deployment.

Kang Kyung-wha also reiterated that Seoul has just reaffirmed to Beijing its existing stance against three issues -- deploying additional Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems, joining the U.S.-led global missile defense program and developing a security alliance with the United States and Japan -- rather than making any official consent for them.

"Our government is not mulling any restriction on the operation of the THAAD system," Kang told a parliamentary session. "The issue of its operations is based upon a decision by the (South Korea-U.S.) alliance."

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks during a parliamentary session at the National Assembly in Seoul on Nov. 27, 2017. (Yonhap)

Chinese media have recently made a call for a curb on the operation of a THAAD battery that the U.S. military has deployed to South Korea's southern city of Seongju to better cope with growing North Korean missile threats.

They touched on the issue in addition to the "three-point" pledge that they argue Seoul has made to Beijing to resolve diplomatic friction over the THAAD deployment, which China believes could undermine its security interests.

"The 'three nos' is not an issue to which we have agreed to China ... We have just repeated and confirmed our stance that we have so far presented," Kang said.

"(The reports on the call for) the restriction of the THAAD operation is clearly not true," she added, pointing out that her ministry hasn't received any official request for it from the Beijing government either.

The THAAD issue has been a major challenge to Seoul that has been seeking to foster stable ties with both Washington, its security ally, and Beijing, its largest trading partner, as strategic rivalry between the major powers appears to be intensifying.

Seoul and Washington have stressed the THAAD battery is a defensive military asset that only targets a provocative Pyongyang, but Beijing apparently loathes the idea of a strengthened U.S. military presence that could help offset its growing security influence.

Kim Jung-mi  edt@koreapost.com

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