TOKYO — Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Wednesday welcomed detente between Beijing and Seoul after their ties were strained by the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea, saying their cooperation is important to tackle Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions.
“It is necessary (for Beijing and Seoul) to work in tandem as members of six-party talks in East Asia,” given Pyongyang’s continuing provocations, Kono told reporters, referring to the multilateral framework aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
“We welcome (the agreement) very much,” Kono added.
On Tuesday, China and South Korea said they have agreed to quickly repair ties following a dispute over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea.
South Korea’s decision to deploy THAAD in July last year in response to North Korean nuclear and missile threats infuriated China.
China had strongly criticized the deployment, which began in April, claiming that the system’s sophisticated radar so close to the Asian power’s borders will give the U.S. military the ability to spy on its territory and harm its strategic security interests.
A total of six interceptor launchers have been installed in Seongju, southeast of Seoul. Beijing has imposed what Seoul sees as retaliatory sanctions on numerous South Korean businesses in China and restricted its citizens from traveling to the South.
Six-party talks include the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. They have been deadlocked since late 2008.