China's Xi says willing to help end rift with South Korea

In return, Moon's sending of Lee Hae-chan as a special envoy to China is another sign of both countries' intentions to build bridges.

Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to implement sanctions against Chinese firms enabling North Korea during his first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, but also asked Trump for a "100-day grace period".

"Since past year, the bilateral relationship has suffered an undeserved frustration, which we are not willing to see", Wang told Lee in his opening remarks. China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with South Korea's special envoy Lee Hae-chan (unseen) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, Wednesday, May 19, 2017.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told a South Korean envoy on Friday he was willing to put relations back on a "normal track" amid tensions over a U.S. anti-missile system deployed on the Korean peninsula. That echoed sentiments expressed Thursday by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who said relations were at a "crossroads" and told Lee he hoped South Korea would "correct the problems we have encountered".

"China is willing to make efforts with all sides, including South Korea, to take even more practical efforts and uphold resolving the nuclear issue on the peninsula via dialogue", the ministry cited Wang as saying.

They were believed to have held talks on prospects for containing North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons activities as well as the economic fallout over the deployment in South Korea of the USA missile defense system called THAAD.

While it is unclear whether Lee discussed the THAAD issue with China's president, it was raised during his meeting with top Chinese diplomat and state councilor Yang Jiechi.

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In the months leading up to Moon's ascent to the Blue House in Seoul, the North ramped up its nuclear programme with missile tests, U.S. president Donald Trump threatened to step up military action and pressure grew on Pyongyang's ally China to intervene to solve the problem.

Ties between Seoul and Beijing soured before Moon's election over the deployment of THAAD, which is aimed at guarding against threats from nuclear-armed North Korea. South Korean companies have claimed that Beijing took retaliatory measures against them, with the flow of tourists from China to South Korea dropping dramatically. China retaliated against the decision to allow the system by suspending Korean retail giant Lotte Mart's stores in its territory, banning package tours and imposing stricter rules for sales of Korean cosmetics products.

Wang on Thursday reiterated calls for its dismantling.

In recent weeks Beijing and Seoul have signaled a desire to fix relations following the election of Moon, who has taken a friendlier stance toward China than his conservative predecessor.

China rightfully criticizes the THAAD deployment, which damages China's strategic interests and brings no good to the region, Jin said.

Moon received a lengthy congratulatory phone call from Xi, and his envoys were warmly received at China's biggest foreign policy event of the year, the One Belt, One Road forum in Beijing last week.

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