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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Patriot Plan Unswayed By North Korean Talks

VIENNA -- South Korea said on Thursday Seoul and Washington would press ahead with the Patriot missile deployment, in spite of concern that it might antagonize North Korea.


A foreign ministry official in Seoul said the Patriots had been under discussion for a long time as "part of a plan to beef up our defense against possible North Korean attack."


"The plan will go ahead, though the size and the time of deployment have yet to be fixed," he said. "The deployment plan has no connection with current nuclear negotiations."


However, the plan is unlikely to affect talks to persuade North Korea to open its nuclear sites to inspection, a U.N. official said Thursday.


David Kyd, spokesman of International Atomic Energy Agency, said the plan was "not really our business," but a matter for Washington and Seoul.


"This is obviously a defensive move which can't threaten anyone," Kyd said. "We see no reason why it should have an effect on the talks."


The agency is engaged in a painstaking effort to persuade North Korea to permit full examination of its seven declared nuclear sites, in line with provisions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.


"The fact that the discussions are continuing is an indication that we are not up against a blank wall," Kyd said. "But there's still a long way to go."


China meanwhile reacted warily to the moves to deploy the missiles, saying it could not support anything which might threaten peace on the peninsula.


Foreign Ministry spokesman Wu Jianmin said Beijing believed negotiation -- not political or military pressure -- was the best way to resolve tensions over North Korea's possible nuclear weapons program.


"We do not support any action which endangers peace and stability on the Korean peninsula," Wu told a weekly news briefing.