Japan, South Korea Agree On First Bilateral Summit In More Than 3 Years

Photo Courtesy: UPI

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (UPI) — South Korea and Japan agreed to the first summit between the leaders of the two countries, after much confusion over a date that was finalized Wednesday.

The summit talks between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are to take place Monday, a day after a trilateral meeting among the two leaders and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, The Financial Times reported.

The trilateral talks are to focus on regional cooperation, reiterating themes of past talks that began in 2008 when the global financial crisis pushed the three countries to work together to cope with the turbulence in world markets.

Historical issues, however, have roiled South Korea-Japan relations since Park and Abe assumed office. Issues such as the forced enslavement of “comfort women” at Japanese military brothels, and recent Japanese ministerial visits to a shrine honoring the war dead have ignited disputes and cooled diplomatic relations between the United States’ two closest allies in the region.

The rift has even affected close economic ties between Tokyo and Seoul, when in February the two governments let a 14-year currency swap agreement to lapse.

But Masao Okonogi, a professor at Keio University in Tokyo, said Seoul has decided to take a “two-track approach” in Japan relations, separating historical grievances from economic cooperation.

The policy is likely to play a key role in the meeting Monday, which according to Kim Kyu-hyun, director at the national security office at the presidential Blue House, is to include talks of “comfort women” grievances and economic cooperation, South Korean news network YTN reported.

Japanese network NHK reported the two leaders are to exchange views on the North Korea nuclear issue and trade, and are expected to discuss trilateral coordination with Premier Li on Sunday.


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