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South Korean and Chinese national flags hang from a pole in front of the portrait of former Chinese chairman Mao Zedong at Beijing's Tiananmen Square January 9, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department welcomed a decision by China and South Korea on Tuesday to resume normal ties after a year-long standoff over a decision by Seoul and Washington to deploy a missile defence system to counter North Korea's nuclear programme.

"We ... were pleased to hear that the Republic of Korea, that our Korean friends, and also the Chinese are forging a closer relationship," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing. "We see that as providing better stability ... for a region that desperately needs it because of North Korea."

Nauert said there had been no change in the decision by South Korea and the United States to deploy the THAAD missile defence system in South Korea to protect against Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programme.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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