Chinese -president calls Korean-counterpart

While Moon was likely helped by the corruption scandal that brought down former president Park Geun-hye, the darkest shadow had to be the growing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

"I will quickly move to solve the crisis in national security". 'If needed, I will fly straight to Washington. I will go to Beijing and Tokyo.

That may set up a possible dispute with Seoul as Moon favors talks with the North and has said he would re-establish trade ties between the two countries, which remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

Park's decision to allow the United States to base a state-of-the-art missile defense system known by the acronym THAAD in South Korea's territory to cope with North Korean nuclear threats is a major irritant.

Moon said he will send a delegation to Beijing to discuss both North Korea and THAAD.

The first so-called "Track 2" talks since Trump took office in January dealt with nuclear issues, regional security and bilateral matters between Washington and Pyongyang, a person familiar with the discussions told Reuters, but declined to elaborate. Moon came to power with a promise to review the system and he told Xi North Korea must cease making provocations before tension over the deployment could be resolved, officials said.

Moon waved to well-wishers through the sunroof of his limousine, which was flanked by police motorbikes.

Mr Moon held the 40-minute phone call with his Chinese counterpart at the Blue House, the presidential residence.

"It is important for South Korea to reassess its security dependence on the USA and on China for economic development", another added. Moon's remark indicates his willingness to renegotiate the agreement, observers said.

"President Moon said he understands China's interest in the Thaad deployment and its concerns, and said he hopes the two countries can swiftly get on with communication to further improve each other's understanding", Mr Yoon told a briefing.

The antimissile system is one of the thorniest diplomatic issues the new South Korean leader faces.

Since the beginning of previous year the North - which says it needs atomic weapons to defend itself against invasion - has mounted two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches.

Moon, who was elected this week, has taken a more conciliatory line than his conservative predecessors and has said he would be prepared to go to Pyongyang "if the conditions are right".

The leaders spoke by telephone a day after Moon was sworn in to replace the ousted Park Geun-hye.

In January, a book by Moon was published where he wrote that South Korea should learn to "say no to America" and become self-reliant in the field of defense capabilities, shifting wartime operational control of the South Korean armed forces from the US back to Seoul.

His party lacks a majority in a divided parliament.

Moon won with 41.1 percent of the votes but that seemingly comfortable margin belied an ideological and generational divide in the country of 51 million people.

The settlement, which remains hugely unpopular in South Korea, included cash payments for victims and South Korea agreed to try to resolve a Japanese grievance over a statue of a girl representing victims in front of its Seoul embassy.

  • Leroy Wright