Published: Mon, May 15, 2017
Finance | By Laverne Griffith

South Korea to attend China's Silk Road summit amid diplomatic rift

South Korea to attend China's Silk Road summit amid diplomatic rift

The North's KCNA state news agency last week accused the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) of a plot to assassinate its "supreme leadership" with a biochemical weapon.

Beijing has said the system would spy on its territory.

Press secretary Yoon Young-chan said separate delegations would hold talks with their Chinese counterparts on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system and North Korea's nuclear program.

South Korea has accepted a last-minute invitation from China to a conference on a new Silk Road, days after a new president took office on Seoul pledging to engage in discussions with Beijing to ease tension over a USA anti-missile system.

Moon, a liberal who favors dialogue with North Korea, won South Korea's elections on Wednesday, replacing impeached President Park Geun-hye.

Moon's attitude during the call appeared to significantly relieve senior bureaucrats in Japan who were concerned he would take a tougher stance and be reluctant to cooperate with Japan and the United States in dealing with North Korea's provocations.

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Modi, in his 25-minute conversation with Moon, said he has always promoted South Korea as a role model for his own country's economic development, according to Yoon.

Beijing - the North's biggest trade partner and diplomatic protector - is infuriated over the deployment of a U.S. missile defence system in the South, and Seoul is embroiled in a row with fellow USA ally Tokyo over wartime history.

But differing viewpoints may soon surface between the two leaders.

But Korean critics said Japan did not go far enough under the deal, and earlier this year Tokyo recalled its ambassador over a statue symbolising the comfort women installed outside its consulate in Busan. Conservative critics have anxious Moon's rise to power might cause a friction with Trump, who wants to increase pressure on North Korea with the help of China, the North's largest trading partner and aid benefactor.

Chinese leaders don't often make congratulatory telephone calls to new foreign leaders right after they take office, normally sending envoys days or weeks later carrying personal letters instead.

During his call with Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe, the two leaders agreed that their countries must not let their hard history hamper co-operation in dealing with North Korea's nuclear programme, Moon's office said. On Thursday, Moon asked Xi to help end the Chinese boycott of South Korean goods. Moon's remark indicates his willingness to renegotiate the agreement, observers said. He had promised during his campaign to renegotiate it.

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