Diplomats of S. Korea, Japan to hold talks after whitelist removal

SEOUL-- Diplomats of South Korea and Japan were set to hold talks in Seoul on Thursday over a deepening trade and history row, a day after Tokyo enforced its decision to remove Seoul from its list of favored trade partners.

Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs, was scheduled to arrive in Seoul and meet with his counterpart, Kim Jung-han, later in the day. They last met in Beijing last week.

His visit follows Tokyo's implementation Wednesday of its decision to remove Seoul from the "whitelist" of countries granted fast-track screening for purchasing items that can be diverted for military use.

South Korean deputy national security advisor Kim Hyun-chong expressed deep regret over enforcement of the measure. The foreign ministry summoned Japanese Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine to lodge a formal complaint.

Seoul-Tokyo ties have chilled seriously over a row surrounding South Korean Supreme Court rulings last year that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

The dispute has spilled into economic and security realms, with Tokyo implementing tougher export control measures and Seoul deciding last week to end a military intelligence-sharing pact, called the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), with the neighbor.

In Thursday's talks, Kim is expected to urge Tokyo to retract export curbs and work to resolve the matter through dialogue. South Korea proposed in June creating a joint fund with contributions from Korean and Japanese companies to compensate victims. Japan has flatly rejected the offer.

Kanasugi is likely to maintain his government's stance that the export curbs are not related to forced labor and that Seoul must keep its pledge on reparation issues as agreed in a 1965 treaty that normalized their ties.

The Korean top court ruled that individual rights to claim damages cannot be overridden by a bilateral agreement. Japan has argued the treaty has settled all wartime issues, including compensation for victims.

The Japanese diplomat could also raise the issue of GSOMIA and express concern over regional security. The decision to not renew GSOMIA has sparked rare open criticism of Seoul from Washington.

After his meeting with Kim, Kanasugi will also meet Lee Do-hoon, special representative for North Korea, to discuss joint efforts to facilitate stalled denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. Kanasugi also serves as Japan's top nuclear envoy.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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