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S. Korean envoy, top Japanese diplomat agree to improve relations

2017/11/14 18:21

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TOKYO, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top envoy met with the Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Tuesday and agreed to recover top-level diplomacy between the two countries' leaders.

South Korean Ambassador to Japan Lee Su-hoon also discussed other ways to improve the bilateral relationship with Japan during his first meeting with Kono since his recent inauguration as an ambassador.

The meeting came amid an icy South Korea-Japan relationship. South Korea is currently vetting the legitimacy of a deal which the two countries signed in December 2015 to end a decadeslong dispute over Japan's wartime atrocity of sexually exploiting Korean women while the Korean Peninsula was under Japan's colonial control from 1910-45.

Japan has also lodged a formal protest with South Korea after jumbo shrimp from the waters near Dokdo were served during a summit meeting between President Moon Jae-in and President Donald Trump earlier this month. Japan has long laid territorial claims to the rocky South Korean islets.

"Shuttle diplomacy will be recovered if Moon's visit to Japan during (Japan's) hosting of a South Korea-China-Japan summit meeting next month or in January next year is followed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to South Korea for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next year." Lee said following the meeting.

Lee also said he and the foreign minister also agreed to pursue tangible cooperation in order to make the bilateral relationship one stage higher.

"I hope a future-oriented South Korea-Japan relationship would continue as you came as an ambassador with strong confidence from the president," Kono said in his opening remarks for the meeting. Lee congratulated Kono on his Liberal Democratic Party's recent election victory.

"We reached a common opinion on the necessity of strengthening exchange and cooperation between South Korea and Japan on various fields," the ambassador also told reporters.