South Korea, US begin talks on anti-missile system

Seoul, March 4 (IANS) South Korea and the US began talks on Friday over the deployment of an American anti-missile system – Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system (THAAD) – a controversial project that has provoked strong protests from North Korea and China.

The negotiations were formally declared open after Seoul and Washington presented the new joint working group in Seoul, a South Korean defence ministry spokesman told Efe news.

The anti-ballistic missile system might be installed in Pyeongtaek, a town 70 km (43 miles) south of capital Seoul that has important US military installations, and early cost estimates puts the figure at around $810 million, according to the defence ministry.

Seoul and Washington had announced in February they would begin negotiations on installing THAAD on South Korean soil, in response to North Korea’s nuclear test and space rocket launch; the last one widely considered a veiled missile test.

The THAAD project, a sophisticated system designed to intercept missiles in their terminal flight phase, has generated protests both from North Korea, which considers it a direct threat to its security, as well as China and Russia.

Beijing said the system will capture confidential Chinese military information, while Moscow denounced it on grounds that it will be able to inspect the air space of some regions in the eastern part of the country.

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