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China, South Korea need to get ties back on track, says Xi Jinping amid row over missile shield

China and South Korea should put their ties back on the right track and build mutual trust, Chinese President Xi Jinping told his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye on Monday, after Seoul’s decision to deploy a US-developed anti-missile system has strained the two countries’ relations.

Xi and Park met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hangzhou.

It was the first time the two heads of state had met for talks since ties were strained by Seoul’s plan to deploy the anti-missile shield.

Xi is also due to hold talks with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday evening, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported, citing Japanese officials, amid tensions over maritime disputes in the East China Sea.

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Xi told Park there were increasing factors creating instability on the Korean Peninsula and China and South Korea should “cherish the existing foundation for cooperation” to build up political trust.

The two countries as “close neighbours with broad common interests” should cherish their existing cooperative foundation and overcome difficulties and challenges, the state-run news agency Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

Xi said China opposed the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system in South Korea. China has repeatedly stated that the missile shield poses a threat to its security.

“Mishandling the issue is not conducive to strategic stability in the region and could intensify disputes,” Xi was quoted as saying.

Park said South Korea’s government values and has the firm will to develop relations with China, but she added that North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and missile launches pose a challenge to its ties with Beijing, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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Park was quoted as saying that North Korea’s provocations gravely damaged peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia.

Park said in an interview with Russia’s state-run news agency Rossiya Segodnya last week that if Pyongyang’s escalating military threats were eliminated the need for the missile shield would “naturally” dissipate.

Xi also told US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit to withdraw the missile shield plan, Xinhua reported.

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Xi’s scheduled full meeting with Abe later on Monday, the first in nearly eighteen months, is also a result of hard diplomatic effort as the two sides have agreed to control confrontations near the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. The islands are claimed by China, but controlled by Japan, which calls them the Senkakus.

Sino-Japanese relations have also been strained by Tokyo’s criticism of China’s assertive territorial claims in the South China Sea, as well as lingering disputes over Japan’s aggression during the second world war.

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