SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Putting aside a rift over a U.S. anti-missile system, top officials from China and South Korea were attending a meeting of a China-backed Asian lending bank that opened Friday on the South Korean island of Jeju.
Chinese finance minister Xiao Jie and his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley were among those at the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank's annual meeting, which runs through Sunday.
South Korea was picked to host the gathering before Beijing began protesting Seoul's agreement to let its ally the United States deploy on its territory key components of the so-called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system. South Korea and the U.S. say the system is needed to deter a possible North Korean attack but Beijing sees it as a threat to its own security because its radar can peer deep into northeastern China.
The China-led AIIB has 77 member countries, including some American allies such as Britain and Australia. The U.S. has shunned the initiative, while Japan has also stayed away but expressed openness to joint projects with the Manila, Philippines-based Asia Development Bank. Twenty five member countries sent representatives to Jeju, the lending bank's first meeting outside China, South Korea's finance ministry said.
It was unclear if the meeting might pave the way for a thaw or if finance ministers from China and South Korea might meet on its sidelines. South Korea's finance minister met with his counterparts from Iran earlier in the day.