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US, S Korea to sign agreement on official talks for THAAD deployment


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SEOUL (BNS): South Korea and the US are expected to sign an agreement this week to begin official-level talks over the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in the Korean peninsula.

According to the official Yonhap news agency, the signing of the "terms of reference" over the possible positioning of a THAAD unit in South Korea will take place on Wednesday or Thursday, as the two countries are yet to iron out some details.

Quoting a Defence Ministry spokesman, the report said that the two sides are "in the final stages" of signing the accord and need one or two days to finish it.

After signing the agreement, Seoul and Washington will establish a joint working group to negotiate the sensitive THAAD issue, including cost-sharing and a candidate site, the Yonhap report said.

The two allies announced the deployment of the anti-ballistic missile defence system after North Korea launched a satellite-bearing long-range rocket earlier this month.

The US has since long been considering the option of deploying the THAAD system -- one of the most advanced in the world -- to the South, but such a move has been fiercely opposed by North Korea, China and Russia who have warned that it may lead to an arms race and undermine regional stability.

The THAAD anti-ballistic missile system has been designed to shoot down short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles with the 'hit-to-kill' principle. The weapon is capable of intercepting the target in both endo- and exo-atmospheres.

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