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(2nd LD) Park to hold summit talks with U.S., Chinese, Japanese leaders

All Headlines 11:16 March 29, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with White House statement)

SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's President Park Geun-hye will meet with the leaders of the United States, Japan and China later this week in Washington to coordinate how to deal with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, Cheong Wa Dae said Tuesday.

The back-to-back summits come after the U.N. Security Council slapped tougher sanctions on North Korea for carrying out its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and a long-range rocket launch on Feb. 7.

Tensions have also spiked on the Korean Peninsula as North Korea has issued a series of threats against South Korea in recent weeks in anger over Seoul's ongoing military drills with Washington.

Park is set to hold separate meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, the South Korean presidential office said.

The three leaders are also set to hold a trilateral summit to discuss the sanctions imposed on North Korea and other outstanding issues. Seoul, Washington and Tokyo have all slapped unilateral sanctions on North Korea.

"The three leaders are expected to have in-depth consultations on how to deal with the threats posed by North Korea's nuclear program," said Kim Kyou-hyun, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs.

In Washington, the White House said the trilateral meeting "will be an opportunity for the three leaders to discuss common responses to the threat posed by North Korea and to advance areas of trilateral security cooperation in the region and globally."

In 2014, Park met with Obama and Abe on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.

Park is also scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Washington in their first face-to-face meeting since North Korea carried out the fourth nuclear test.

Park and Xi are expected to exchange in-depth opinions on the faithful implementation of the U.N. sanctions and how to strengthen bilateral communication on North Korea and its nuclear program, said Kim.

Last month, the two leaders held a telephone conversation about the North's nuclear test.

China, the North's last major ally and economic benefactor, has since voted in favor of tougher U.N. sanctions and vowed to strictly enforce them.

Meanwhile, Park's planned summit with Abe would be the first since December when Seoul and Tokyo produced a landmark deal on resolving the issue of the Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II.

Kim said Park and Abe could discuss ways on how to boost cooperation on North Korea's nuclear program, though it remains unclear if the two leaders will also discuss the wartime sex slavery issue.

Under the agreement, Japan formally apologized for its past actions and offered 1 billion yen (US$8.9 million) in reparations. South Korea agreed to end the dispute once and for all if Japan fully implements the deal.

Park has vowed to make the utmost efforts to help victims restore their honor and heal their scars.

South Korean victims, however, have been dying off. In 2007, more than 120 known South Korean victims were alive, but the number has since dwindled to 44, with the average age of the survivors standing at 89.

Historians estimate that more than 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for the Japanese military during the war. Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45.


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