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S. Korean minister cautious about 2nd talks with Japan over WTO dispute

All Headlines 16:35 November 11, 2019

SEJONG, Nov. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's trade minister said Monday she is cautious about the prospects for the second bilateral talks with Japan over Tokyo's export curbs, although Seoul will redouble efforts to resolve the dispute.

South Korea and Japan plan to hold the bilateral talks in Geneva on Nov. 19 as part of their dispute settlement process at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Since July, Japan has tightened exports of key materials to South Korea in apparent retaliation over Seoul's court rulings on compensation for wartime forced labor.

South Korea has blamed Tokyo for weaponizing trade in reprisal for Seoul's handling of the matter stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula. Last month, the two nations failed to reach an agreement in their first talks in Geneva.

Asked about the prospect of the upcoming talks with Japan, Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee said that she has no idea whether the talks could produce a breakthrough.

"We will make the best efforts to swiftly resolve the matter," Yoo told reporters.

This file photo shows South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee. (Yonhap)

If South Korea and Japan fail to reach an agreement at the second talks, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body will establish a panel to look further into the case.

"For now, it is difficult to say whether all issues could be resolved at the second consultation," Yoo said.

The second round of bilateral talks between the two Asian neighbors came after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to resolve pending issues via dialogue during their meeting in Bangkok earlier this month in their first one-on-one talks in more than a year amid frayed ties.

Earlier this month, South Korea, ASEAN member states and five other countries reached a deal on a mega Asia-Pacific trade pact, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The agreement involved the 10-member ASEAN bloc and its dialogue partners South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. But another participating country, India, did not join the deal.

Under the RCEP deal, Yoo said South Korea will negotiate with Japan to bilaterally resolve sensitive issues.
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