U.S. welcomes China, South Korea bid to improve ties despite anti-missile dispute

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is seen in Seongju, South Korea, June 13, 2017. Picture taken on June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department welcomed a decision by China and South Korea on Tuesday to resume normal ties after a year-long standoff over a decision by Seoul and Washington to deploy a missile defense system to counter North Korea’s nuclear program.

“We ... were pleased to hear that the Republic of Korea, that our Korean friends, and also the Chinese are forging a closer relationship,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing. “We see that as providing better stability ... for a region that desperately needs it because of North Korea.”

Nauert said there had been no change in the decision by South Korea and the United States to deploy the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea to protect against Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.

Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Mohammad Zargham