South Korean president to meet opposition after North Korea's nuke test

South Korea's President Park Geun Hye is set to meet political party leaders on Monday (Sept 12).
South Korea's President Park Geun Hye is set to meet political party leaders on Monday (Sept 12).PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean President Park Geun Hye will meet political party leaders Monday (Sept 12) following North Korea's nuclear test, amid speculation she will urge them to ease opposition to a US missile defence system.

A presidential spokesman Sunday confirmed the meeting with leaders of the three parties but gave no details of the subject.

Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified presidential official as saying Park would seek cooperation from both her conservative ruling party and liberal opposition parties for her handling of the nuclear threat.

North Korea Friday staged its fifth and most powerful atomic detonation, describing it as a test of a nuclear warhead for a missile.

Park cut short her visit to Laos and returned home, summoning a meeting of top officials to urgently review defences against what she termed "imminent" nuclear threats from the North.

At Friday's meeting, Park urged opposition parties and other opponents to stop "politically-motivated fault-finding such as objections to the deployment" of the highly-sophisticated US missile defence system.

South Korea in July announced plans to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in the south of the country to counter growing nuclear and missile threats from the North.

China, which believes the system's radar could also be used to track its own defences, objected strongly. Its leader Xi Jinping argued that "mishandling" the issue could intensify regional disputes when he met Park on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou on Monday.

The plan has also met resistance from residents of Seongju county, the planned venue for the deployment.

Opposition parties oppose the THAAD deployment, saying it would only escalate a regional arms race and hurt ties with the country's biggest trading partner China.

They say its usefulness against the North's military threats is in any case doubtful.