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S. Korea, Japan to hold working-level talks on wartime history, other issues

Diplomacy 11:40 June 21, 2021

SEOUL, June 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan will hold working-level talks in Seoul later Monday to discuss a prolonged row over wartime sexual slavery, forced labor and other pending issues, the foreign ministry said.

The planned meeting between Lee Sang-ryeol, director general for Asia and Pacific affairs at Seoul's foreign ministry, and his Japanese counterpart, Takehiro Funakoshi, comes amid little headway in Seoul's efforts to mend strained ties with Tokyo.

Funakoshi, who doubles as Japan's top nuclear envoy, was in Seoul this week for trilateral talks with his South Korean and U.S. counterparts to discuss North Korea's denuclearization.

Seoul-Tokyo ties remain chilled as Japan recently canceled a tentatively agreed-upon "pull-aside" meeting between President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on the margins of the Group of Seven (G-7) session in Britain earlier this month.

Tokyo took issue with Seoul's annual drills to defend its easternmost islets of Dokdo, to which Japan has laid territorial claims.

At Monday's talks, Lee was expected to renew Seoul's calls for Tokyo to ease the export restrictions imposed over the forced labor row. Also expected to be on the agenda is Japan's planned release of radioactive water from its wreaked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean.

Lee and Funakoshi last held in-person working-level talks in April.

Lee Sang-ryeol, director general for Asia and Pacific affairs at Seoul's foreign ministry (L), and Takehiro Funakoshi, director general for Asian and Oceanian affairs at Japan's foreign ministry, are seen at a hotel in Tokyo after holding bilateral working-level talks on April 1, 2021. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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