Seoul and Beijing have agreed to amend the dispute over the deployment of the THAAD antimissile system on South Korean soil.
Seoul's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday posted a statement on its Web site regarding recent talks held with China over the THAAD issue. The statement was simultaneously posted by Beijing.
The statement said diplomatic authorities of the two countries recently held discussions regarding issues related to the Korean Peninsula.
It said the two sides highly value their ties and have decided to advance their strategic cooperative relationship. They also agreed to normalize exchanges in all fields as this would be in their common interest.
According to the statement, South Korea recognized China’s stance and concerns over the THAAD installment. Seoul also made clear the antimissile system, in line with its initial purpose, will not target a third country and thus not harm China’s strategic security interests.
China, on its part, reiterated its opposition to the deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea. But it also said that it noted Seoul’s position and hoped that Korea will appropriately address the matter.
The two sides also agreed to discuss Beijing’s concerns over THAAD through a military channel.
With the latest agreement, China’s retaliatory measures against South Korea and the ensuing conflict between the two countries appear to have simmered down after some 13 months.
China began its retaliation after Seoul announced its plan to deploy THAAD in July last year under the previous Park Geun-hye administration.
The agreement reflects the need felt in both countries to improve bilateral trust and relations. A pragmatic approach to the huge economic losses suffered on both sides is also believed to have played a part.
China's retaliatory measures affected all areas of tourism, culture and the corporate world. The tourism sector and conglomerate Lotte Group, which provided the site for THAAD, were the hardest hit by the dispute.
Lotte is known to have suffered losses of nearly two trillion won due to halted operations of its supermarket chain Lotte Mart in China. Meanwhile, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Korea dropped by more than 60 percent between March and August as Beijing banned group tours to Korea.
Although there are no guarantees everything will return to normal following the latest agreement, major improvements are expected to come. Industry officials say it will take several months to see a "complete restoration" of conditions.