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U.S. declines comment on Abe speech

All Headlines 06:12 April 23, 2015

WASHINGTON, April 22 (Yonhap) -- The United States on Wednesday declined comment on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech in Jakarta as South Korea expressed regret the Japanese leader failed to offer a clear apology for the country's wartime history.

In a speech at a summit of Asian and African leaders in Jakarta on Wednesday, Abe expressed "deep remorse" over Japan's aggressions during World War II, but he stopped short of offering a "heartfelt apology" as then-Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi did in an earlier summit of the same conference in 2005.

South Korea expressed regret over Abe's failure to offer an explicit apology.

State Department acting spokeswoman Marie Harf declined comment on Abe's speech.

"I just don't have any analysis of the speech to do for you. We're looking forward to his visit very soon," she said at a regular press briefing.

Abe is scheduled to make a weeklong trip to the U.S. next week.

South Korea has urged him to use the visit as a chance to offer an unequivocal apology for the country's imperialist past and atrocities, including the country's sexual enslavement of Korean and other Asian women during World War II.

Abe's attempts to whitewash Japan's wartime history have been a key thorn in relations between South Korea and Japan. Frayed ties between the two Asian allies have been a key cause for concern for the U.S. and have stymied Washington's efforts to bolster three-way security cooperation.

Meanwhile, Harf welcomed the rare meeting between Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Jakarta summit. It was their second meeting since they first met in Beijing in November amid frayed relations over historical and territorial disputes.

"We welcome the meeting," Harf said. "As two of the three largest economies in the world, our relations between the two countries, as we've said many times, affect peace and prosperity of not just the region, but the rest of the world."


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