South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha speaks during a press conference in Seoul. Photo: AFP/Jung Yeon-je

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told lawmakers on Monday that the Moon administration will not participate in a US-led missile defense system, according to a report from the Korea Herald.

“There is no change in our stance that we will not participate in the US’ MD networks,” Kang was quoted as saying.

The minister was presumably referring to any proposed networks above and beyond the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system (THAAD) batteries already deployed in South Korea. “Let me be clear on this. As explained on many occasions before, the THAAD system is a self-defense measure that has nothing to do with the MD,” Kang added, suggesting that the US missile defense network in question is not defensive in nature.

Kang added in her statement that “we are not considering any additional THAAD deployments.”

The comments come amid reports that South Korea’s relations with China are finally thawing after Beijing retaliated against Seoul’s deployment of THAAD systems with informal economic sanctions.

The minister also made clear that trilateral cooperation between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo did not amount to a military alliance.

“The security cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan operates within the frame of effectively countering and deterring North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats — It will not develop into a military alliance,” she said.

Confirming earlier reports that the first visit by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Beijing may be in the works, Kang said that Seoul plans to talk with Beijing about arranging a visit soon.

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