May 12, 2017 6:40 am JST

Xi nudges Moon to think twice on THAAD

New South Korean leader pursues balancing role in East Asia

HIROSHI MINEGISHI and OKI NAGAI, Nikkei staff writers

SEOUL/BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping tacitly asked new South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in on Thursday to reconsider the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system.

Moon told Xi that he would soon send a delegation to discuss the placement of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea. Xi expressed hope that the country's new government would respect China's serious concerns and further the development of bilateral relations by way of concrete action -- a veiled request to rethink hosting THAAD. China Central Television carried news of the talk.

Moon responded that he would strive to find an appropriate solution. The liberal new president's stance is in accordance with the diplomatic doctrine that Seoul should mediate for the interests of such powers as Washington and Beijing in East Asia, in line with the "balancer" policy of former President Roh Moo-hyun.

The call with Xi was Moon's second telephone conversation as president with a key global leader, following one Wednesday with U.S. President Donald Trump.

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