June 29, 2016 / 10:47 AM / a year ago

China's Xi urges caution over U.S. missile deployment in South Korea

South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn (L) is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, China June 29, 2016.Greg Baker/Pool

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday urged South Korea to pay attention to China's concerns about the deployment of the U.S. THAAD missile defense system to the country and "cautiously" address the plan.

The United States and South Korea have begun talks on possible deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system after North Korea tested its fourth nuclear bomb on Jan. 6 and conducted missile tests.

China and Russia have urged the United States to back off, saying THAAD's deployment could also affect their security.

South Korea should "attach importance to China's legitimate concern on security and cautiously and appropriately address the United States' plan" to deploy THAAD in South Korea, Xi told visiting South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

North Korea's drive to develop a nuclear weapons capability has angered China, Pyongyang's sole major diplomatic and economic supporter. But Beijing fears THAAD and its radar have a range that would extend into China.

Xi added that China and South Korea should continue to work for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, work together to maintain peace and stability and solve problems through dialogue and consultation.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

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