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(LEAD) S. Korea, Japan in talks to arrange foreign ministers' talks in Munich

Diplomacy 16:00 February 13, 2019

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout)

TOKYO/SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan are in talks to set up talks between their top diplomats on the sidelines of an upcoming security forum in Munich, Germany, an official at Seoul's foreign ministry said Wednesday, amid heightened tensions over historical and other issues.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono are set to attend the annual three-day Munich Security Conference slated to begin on Friday.

"Currently, we are coordinating with (Tokyo) to arrange the meeting between the two ministers," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier in the day, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Seoul and Tokyo are discussing setting the meeting between Kang and Kono in the German city.

The newspaper said that the two sides may discuss "follow-up" measures over a set of South Korean Supreme Court rulings last year against Japanese firms for forced labor during World War II.

The Japanese government has demanded that Seoul and Tokyo initiate diplomatic talks over the issue based on Article III of a 1965 treaty between Seoul and Tokyo that normalized bilateral ties.

The treaty stipulates that the two sides are to settle any dispute related to the treaty primarily through diplomatic channels. Tokyo has argued that all reparation-related issues related to its colonization of Korea were settled through the treaty.

Kang and Kono last met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss city of Davos on Jan. 23.

If the Kang-Kono talks are held in Munich, Tokyo is expected to urge Seoul to hold formal diplomatic consultations with South Korea on the issue.

On Tuesday, Kenji Kanasugi, director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau at the Japanese Foreign Ministry, called in Kim Kyung-han, a minister at the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo, to answer the Japanese demand.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (R) meets her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 23, 2019, where they were attending the World Economic Forum. (Yonhap)


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