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People's Daily Online

S. Korean. U.S. security, defense officials hold phone talks on THAAD, military drills

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 19:34, March 01, 2017

Senior security and defense officials of South Korea and the United States held phone talks on Wednesday to talks about the deployment of the U.S. missile shield in South Korean soil and the launch of joint military exercises.

Kim Kwan-jin, top security adviser to impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye, talked via phone with his U.S. counterpart H.R. McMaster, who was named as new U.S. national security adviser last month, the presidential Blue House of South Korea said.

During the half-hour dialogue, Kim and McMaster agreed to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in southeast South Korea as scheduled for what they said was nuclear and missile threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to install one THAAD battery by the end of this year. The site was altered in September into a golf course in the Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province.

The golf course was possessed by Lotte Group, South Korea's fifth-largest family-controlled conglomerate, which signed a contract with the defense ministry on Tuesday to exchange the golf course for military land near Seoul.

The land swap deal would speed the remaining procedures for the THAAD deployment in South Korea, including the land provision to the U.S. military and the basic designing of the missile base.

China and Russia have strongly opposed the THAAD deployment in South Korea as it breaks regional balance and damages security interests of the two countries.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing Monday that "China expresses firm opposition and strong dissatisfaction" with the THAAD deployment in South Koera.

China will take necessary measures to safeguard its security interests, and the U.S. and South Korea will have to bear all the resulting consequences, he said.

Also on Wednesday, South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo also had phone conversations with his U.S. counterpart James Mattis, who confirmed the steadfast U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea during the half-hour talks.

The decision on THAAD caused strong backlashes from South Korean residents and parliament as it was abruptly announced without any public and parliamentary consensus.

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