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(LEAD) S. Korea, Japan seek to strengthen development cooperation

All News 17:14 April 01, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with start of talks, quote in paras 1, 6-8; RECASTS headline; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan held talks Friday on strengthening cooperation in the development sector, setting aside their political differences.

The two countries have held annual meetings to discuss their respective development policies but have yet to conduct any joint projects. Development cooperation is seen as one area where the neighbors could work together despite their various rows over history and territorial issues.

"South Korea and Japan are the only donor nations in the Asia-Pacific region," a Foreign Ministry official told Yonhap News Agency, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity. "It's only natural for the two countries to cooperate in the development sector in places like Southeast Asia, so we're thinking of ways to produce concrete outcomes."

South Korea has been building its status as a donor nation with increased contributions to the international community. It is the only country that has gone from being an aid recipient to a donor.

Japan, meanwhile, is the fifth largest donor nation in the world.

The meeting was led by Lee Yong-soo, director-general of the ministry's development cooperation bureau, and his Japanese counterpart Takio Yamada.

The agenda included cooperation on the U.N.'s sustainable development goals, which were adopted last year to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.

"This year's meeting is most timely in that this year the international community will embark on the implementation of the sustainable development goals, and each country is trying very hard to align its development cooperation policy with the new development agenda," Lee said at the start of the talks.

South Korea could also propose working together on development projects led by international agencies or sending aid workers to each other's respective development projects around the world, the official said.


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