SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on South Korea and China agreeing to talks to improve ties (all times local):
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Tokyo to discuss cooperation in addressing security challenges, including North Korea's nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches.
They said in a joint statement following their meeting Tuesday that they "condemn in the strongest terms North Korea's nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, which are in flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions."
They also called on U.N. member states "to implement fully and transparently" relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, and to "apply decisive pressure on the North Korean regime to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile" programs.
The statement also expressed their "concern about the situation in the East and South China Seas," where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple territorial disputes. It said, "We reaffirm our opposition to unilateral coercive actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions."
South Korea's Lotte business group, which provided the land for a contentious U.S. missile-defense system in the South, has welcomed Seoul's announcement that it has agreed to resolve strained ties with Beijing.
Lotte has been one of the biggest victims in a standoff over the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense because Lotte's discount stores in China had to suspend business amid growing anti-South sentiments in China over THAAD.
Lotte Corp., the holdings company of South Korea's fifth-largest conglomerate, said it will strive to normalize its businesses in China but also said its efforts to seek buyers for its retail stores in China are unchanged.
China views the THAAD's radar system as a security threat. It suspended visits to South Korea by Chinese tour groups and trips to China by South Korean entertainers.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry says top diplomats from China and South Korea have discussed the U.S. missile-defense system in a statement that also indicated China's interest in improving ties.
The statement released Tuesday did not mention a summit between the two countries' leaders that a South Korean official said would be held on the sidelines of an annual regional forum in Vietnam next week.
The ministry's statement repeated China's objection to the anti-missile system being deployed in South Korea but said both nations attached great importance to their relationship and were willing to push forward on developing a cooperative partnership.
The development on THAAD comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping consolidated his already considerable power at a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress earlier this month.