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Ruling party officially backs THAAD deployment plan

2016/08/30 10:40

SEOUL, Aug. 30 (Yonhap) -- The ruling Saenuri Party on Tuesday adopted an official stance to support the planned deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system to South Korea, saying it is the "least" Seoul can do to counter Pyongyang's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

The party lawmakers' unanimous backing for the plan to station a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery on the peninsula by end-2017 came as opposition politicians are largely opposed to the plan.

"Adopting the official stance despite political differences over the THAAD deployment is the Saenuri Party displaying its strong will to stand at the vanguard of the efforts to overcome security challenges facing the country," Saenuri floor leader Chung Jin-suk said during a general meeting of party lawmakers.

The Saenuri leadership, consisting mostly of members loyal to President Park Geun-hye, has supported the deployment plan. But the party's adoption of the official stance would boost Park's push for the THAAD deployment.

In recent weeks, the commander-in-chief has repeatedly made emphatic calls for the public and political circles to back the THAAD deployment, saying that it is an "inevitable, self-defense" measure to defend the nation and its people.

Over the THAAD issue, the Minjoo Party of Korea (MPK) has so far maintained an indecisive stance as Kim Chong-in, its former interim leader, has opposed moves by party lawmakers to resist the deployment plan.

But expectations are growing that Choo Mi-ae, who was elected MPK chief in a landslide victory on Saturday, might adopt a party stance against THAAD given that she is seen favoring more progressive party tenets and may want to draw the line in relation to Saenuri.

During her election campaign, Choo said that the MPK should adopt a collective position against THAAD, although following her election win she said, "My stance remains unchanged, but I will seek party consensus."

   The MPK will hold a major gathering of lawmakers to determine whether it will officially oppose the THAAD issue.

The minor opposition People's Party, meanwhile, has been against the THAAD deployment from the outset, criticizing the MPK for its ambiguous stance over the security issue.

Saenuri Party leader Lee Jung-hyun (L) and floor leader Chung Jin-suk talk while attending a general meeting of party lawmakers at the National Assembly in Seoul on Aug. 30, 2016. (Yonhap) Saenuri Party leader Lee Jung-hyun (L) and floor leader Chung Jin-suk talk while attending a general meeting of party lawmakers at the National Assembly in Seoul on Aug. 30, 2016. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr

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