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

This image shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump

This image shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump

Xi congratulated Moon on his election and the leaders agreed to exchange special envoys as soon as possible, Yoon said.

On Tuesday, Beijing confirmed that an official delegation from North Korea would also attend the summit. Indeed, Mr. Trump said this month that he'd be "honored" to meet with Mr. Kim if the conditions were right.

South Korea's new President Moon Jae-in is one of the leading figures in the pro-democracy movement which led to South Korea's first democratic election in 1987.

"The resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue must be comprehensive and sequential, with pressure and sanctions used in parallel with negotiations", Mr Moon's spokesman, Yoon Young-chan, quoted the Korean leader as telling his Chinese counterpart.

Unless North Korea stops the development of its nuclear weapons and starts the process of denuclearization, there's little room for Moon to lift existing economic sanctions and initiate engagement with its neighbor in the north, including reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex that the previous administration said was funneling hard currency to the regime in Pyongyang.

On Friday, South Korea's new President scrapped history textbooks which were issued by the state and introduced by his predecessor.

A phone conversation between Moon and US President Donald Trump on Wednesday night also touched on the Korean Peninsula.

"President Moon said he understands China's interest in the THAAD deployment and its concerns, and said he hopes the two countries can swiftly get on with communication to further improve each other's understanding", Yoon said.

China has protested against the deployment saying the system's powerful radar can probe deep into its territory, undermining is security, destabilising the regional security balance and doing little to deter North Korea.

Considering the deployment of the missile interception system as a USA attempt to contain it militarily, the communist country has cracked down on South Korea's economic interests. Now more than ever is the time for Seoul to devote itself to balanced diplomacy with the position that it should take the initiative in resolving problems on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea accused the US and South Korean security agencies of planning a biochemical attack on leader Kim during April 15 celebrations in the North's capital of the anniversary of the birth of state founder Kim Il Sung.

Park, who also served as co-chairman of Moon's presidential campaign team, is expected to meet key Chinese officials on the sidelines of the forum to discuss the ways to fix bilateral relations, the official told Yonhap.

 Moon Jae-in, a liberal who wants to restore friendly ties with North Korea, has become South Korea's president after an electoral landslide.

Tokyo has been concerned that Mr Moon will take a tough line on feuds stemming from the bitter legacy of its 1910-1945 colonisation of the Korean peninsula and could fray ties at a time when cooperation on North Korea is vital.

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