Ex-UN chief Ban backs South Korea's Thaad deployment

Mr Ban (at left), seen here at a social welfare facility on Saturday, says the anti-missile system deployment is a defensive measure, as North Korea is developing nuclear missiles.
Mr Ban (at left), seen here at a social welfare facility on Saturday, says the anti-missile system deployment is a defensive measure, as North Korea is developing nuclear missiles.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SEOUL • Former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon, who is expected to run for president of South Korea, said yesterday that it is appropriate for the country to be the site of a United States anti-missile system that is due to be deployed later this year.

"Since the reality is the Korean peninsula is in a quasi-war-like state, such action made by the government is appropriate," Mr Ban was quoted by South Korea's Yonhap News Agency as saying.

China objects strongly to the planned deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) system as it worries its powerful radar can penetrate its territory.

Mr Ban said that he "understands Thaad deployment is made as a defensive measure as, ultimately, North Korea is developing nuclear missiles and accumulating ballistic missile technology", he told reporters at the memorial for the 2010 sinking of a navy ship that South Korea blames on the North.

"There is the issue of relations with neighbouring countries. This problem can be solved diplomatically," Mr Ban said.

The 72-year-old returned to South Korea last Thursday after his decade at the helm of the global body ended last month.

He has not made clear his political stance and whether he will run in the presidential election, but he has been hinting at his bid for presidency.

In his arrival speech at Incheon Airport, he vowed to devote himself to serving the nation.

He is considered a prominent conservative candidate, but pundits say that he is trying to embrace voters of both political camps.

Last Friday, he visited the Seoul National Cemetery to pay tribute to the four former presidents of both the conservative and liberal parties. He also had lunch with working mothers and job-seeking youth.

On Saturday, he visited a social welfare facility to greet the elderly there before making a surprise visit to a sterilisation centre for bird flu. South Korea is battling its worst bird flu outbreak with the number of birds killed - 30 million - surpassing the 14 million killed in 2014.

He plans to visit Paengmok Port in Jindo, the site of a 2014 ferry disaster that left more than 300 dead or missing.

REUTERS, KOREA HERALD/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-UN chief Ban backs South Korea's Thaad deployment'. Print Edition | Subscribe