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South Korean presidential candidate: THAAD issue should not hamper ties with Russia, China

February 08, 14:38 UTC+3 SEOUL

On December 12, the South Korean parliament voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye

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Governor of the South Chungcheong province Ahn Hee-jung

Governor of the South Chungcheong province Ahn Hee-jung

© EPA/YONHAP

SEOUL, February 8. /TASS/. It is necessary to deploy the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea but Russia and China’s concerns should be taken into consideration, Governor of the South Chungcheong province Ahn Hee-jung, who is believed to be one of the upcoming presidential election favorites, told TASS at a press conference in Seoul.

"I fully understand that the deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea is a sensitive issue for China and Russia. This is why the new (South Korean) government will have to pay much attention to it and work on it in order to ensure the country’s peaceful coexistence with its neighbors," he noted. According to Ahn Hee-jung, the United States, Russia, China and South Korea should "get together and discuss" this issue. He added that Seoul needed the US anti-missile system solely for self-defense.

The South Korean government made a decision to deploy the US THAAD anti-missile system to the country in early July 2016, following talks between members of a bilateral working group, which had lasted since March 4. The THAAD anti-missile system is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles in their terminal phase.

When making this decision, South Korea cited the need to combat North Korea’s missile threat. However, Russia and China strongly opposed this plan.

Public opinion poll conducted this week shows that Ahn Hee-jung is the second popular presidential candidate in South Korea. A total of 14.2% of respondents said they were ready to vote for him. Meanwhile, 29.8% of those surveyed said they would vote for former leader of the opposition Toburo Democratic Party Moon Jae-in.

On December 12, the South Korean parliament voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye. If the country’s Constitutional Court upholds this decision, then early presidential election could take place in the first half of the current year.

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