South Koreans march to protest US missile defence system

The protest came as South Korean President Moon Jae-In heads to Washington next week for his first summit with Trump amid soaring tensions over the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's sovereign right to develop its defense capabilities and nuclear deterrent.

"The Asahi Shimbun's report that U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon demanded the deployment of Thaad before the year's end in a meeting with our government officials is not true", the Blue House official said in a released statement.

When asked about frustration in Washington that Moon's administration has not fully deployed a USA anti-missile system and insisted on an environmental impact assessment first, the president said that getting the assessment done "does not mean that we will postpone or reverse the decision to deploy".

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Seoul and Washington announced their joint agreement in July previous year to install one THAAD battery in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province.

President Moon also mentioned his upcoming trip to Washington next week to meet with President Trump where the two leaders will reinforce the Seoul-Washington alliance and look for ways to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue. The Japanese government said it is deploying the Aegis Ashore to "enhance its ability to respond to the launch of North Korean ballistic missiles", according to the Asahi. In addition to expanding its missile arsenal, South Korea is also strengthening its missile defense, which include Patriot-based systems and a high-tech Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery now under deployment in the southeastern county of Seongju.

Pyongyang's patron, China, has also condemned THAAD while engaging in a costly unofficial trade war with South Korea over its decision to install the missile defense system. "But for some reason that I do not know, this entire THAAD process was accelerated", Moon added.

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Moon's remarks revealed for the first time details of the so-called original THAAD agreement, while apparently shedding more light on his new administration's earlier decision to temporarily suspend the deployment of the USA missile shield.

"But it's not clear that, even under President Trump, that he will agree to allow you to negotiate with the North Koreans without any preconditions. Aren't you giving in to them?" asked the US interviewer. "They've also acquired some knowledge of the SM3 because the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is already using it with its Aegis warships, which was probably a consideration", the expert said.

The spokesman of the South Korean Presidency, however, flatly dismissed the notion that the South Korean President would "ask" for USA permission to engage with North Korea.

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