S.Korea, Japan maintain first bilateral talks since 2019, search stronger ties By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations Normal Meeting at U.N. Headquarters in New York Metropolis, U.S., September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

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By David Brunnstrom and Hyonhee Shin

UNITED NATIONS/SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held their first one-on-one talks on Wednesday and agreed on the necessity to enhance relations dogged by historic disputes.

The assembly happened in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. Normal Meeting, the primary such talks between leaders of the 2 international locations since 2019.

Yoon, who took workplace in Might, has been eager to enhance relations with Tokyo, which have been stricken by disputes stemming from Japan’s 1910-45 colonization of the Korean peninsula, at a time when each international locations face North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile threats. Japan has additionally confused the significance of strategic cooperation.

“The 2 leaders agreed on the necessity to enhance relations by resolving pending points, for which they agreed to speed up diplomatic talks whereas persevering with discussions between themselves,” Yoon’s deputy spokesperson, Lee Jae-myoung, mentioned in a press release.

Lee mentioned the leaders shared severe considerations about North Korea’s nuclear program, together with its current regulation authorizing first use of nuclear weapons and the potential of a resumption of nuclear testing for the primary time since 2017.

Either side described the assembly, which lasted half-hour, as “casual”.

Japan’s Overseas Ministry Press Secretary Hikariko Ono mentioned the 2 leaders “shared the necessity to carry again the sound bilateral relationship with the decision of varied points.”

She mentioned they agreed to develop relations “in a future-oriented method based mostly on the inspiration of the pleasant and cooperative relationship that each international locations constructed because the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1965.”

Yoon and Kishida first met on the sidelines of the North Atlantic Treaty Group (NATO) summit in Madrid in June, and in addition at a trilateral summit with U.S. President Joe Biden, however Wednesday’s assembly was the primary time they’d sat down for one-on-one talks.

At stake are South Korean court docket orders for a seizure of property of Japanese firms accused of not compensating a few of their colonial-era laborers.

Tokyo says the problem of compensation was settled beneath a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic ties and offering South Korea with financial help, and has warned of great repercussions if the orders are enforced.

Japan has urged South Korea to current an answer, and a Seoul official mentioned it could devise a “lifelike, possible proposal” that may win consent from each victims and Tokyo.

However the Yoon administration’s efforts to assemble opinions from victims, attorneys and specialists through a public-private panel have confronted a setback with the victims’ group refusing to attend its conferences since final month.

The testy relations have been highlighted forward of Wednesday’s assembly, with Kishida contemplating calling it off after being upset by an announcement from Yoon’s workplace of their deliberate summit, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun every day reported.

An official at Yoon’s workplace declined touch upon the report.

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