S.Korea to temporarily deploy four remaining THAAD launchers - ministry

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The Ministry of National Defense said the U.S. Forces Korea will dispatch the four Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, launchers at a facility in the southeastern rural village of Seongju, some 300km away from the capital.

The two leaders spoke Monday morning to discuss their response to the latest provocation from North Korea - an alleged Sunday test of a hydrogen bomb.

The ministry said Seoul and Washington made a decision to speed up the deployment in view of Pyongyang provocations in recent weeks including two intercontinental ballistic missile launches and its sixth nuclear test.

To May, Trump stressed "now is not the time to talk to North Korea" and that "all options remain open to defend the United States and its allies".

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Even before the Defense Ministry confirmed the deployment plan, China issued a strong protest Wednesday based on media speculation of the installation through Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in Beijing.

The South Korean defense ministry said Defense Minister Song Young-moo and US Defense Secretary James Mattis reached the agreement during their phone conversation Tuesday evening.

Leftist South Korean president Moon Jae-in opposed the further implementation of the THAAD system without further government inspection of, among other priorities, the environmental effect of installing it as a candidate. There are now two launchers at the location.

Meanwhile, hundreds of local residents and activists are gathered near the US base protesting the deployment.

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Russian president Vladimir Putin has condemned North Korea's latest nuclear test as "provocative".

He said it was important that all parties, including North Korea, should not face "threats of annihilation" and "step on the path of cooperation". He said it "offers a genuine way to defuse the tensions and a step-by-step settlement".

South Korea said Trump also reaffirmed an ironclad commitment to South Korea's defense, and the two countries agreed to seek stronger United Nations sanctions against the North.

However, the plan - which China has also urged all parties to "seriously consider" - was previously rejected by Washington, with State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert stating last month that the U.S. is "allowed" to conduct exercises with its ally and "that's just not going to change".

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