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South Korea, China Leaders to Meet on APEC Summit Sidelines

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping, one of the seven newly elected members of the Politburo Standing Committee, attends a press event at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Oct. 25, 2017.

The leaders of South Korea and China will hold face-to-face talks next week, ending a year of diplomatic tensions over South Korea's deployment of a U.S.-built anti-missile system.

South Korea's presidential office issued a statement Tuesday saying Moon Jae-in and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will huddle on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit taking place in Vietnam on November 10-11.

Relations between the regional superpowers turned frosty after Seoul deployed the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Defense (THAAD) system on the grounds of a former golf course in the southern city of Seongju. South Korea says THAAD is deployed to counter a possible missile strike from North Korea, but China counters that the system diminishes its own security.

FILE - A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor (right) is seen in Seongju, South Korea, April 26, 2017.
FILE - A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor (right) is seen in Seongju, South Korea, April 26, 2017.

Beijing retaliated against several South Korean companies operating in China, and banned large group tours from traveling to South Korea.

"The geopolitical side, the tension doesn't make for a very good, friendly environment," James Kim, a research fellow at the Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies, told VOA's Victor Beattie. "Certainly, how bilateral relations between South Korea and China goes, does contribute to other things in the region, including North Korea."

But both sides recently agreed to extend a bilateral currency swap, a further sign of apparently improving ties since President Moon and President Xi met in July.

China's Foreign Ministry confirmed next week's bilateral talks in Vietnam in a separate statement Tuesday. The ministry says it has reiterated its opposition to THAAD's deployment in South Korea, but said it took note of Seoul's position, and hopes it will deal with the issue appropriately.

VOA's Victor Beattie contributed to this report.