S. Korea, Japan in talks over possible foreign ministers’ meeting in Paris

SEOUL, South Korea is coordinating with Japan over possible talks between their top diplomats on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris this month, Seoul's foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Japanese media have reported that Seoul and Tokyo are pursuing the meeting between Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, in the French capital where the OECD's annual Ministerial Council Meeting is set to occur on May 22-23.

"To the question of whether the South Korean and Japanese ministers will meet on the margins of the OECD meeting, we can say that we are coordinating with our counterpart," Kim In-chul, the ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing.

Observers say that should their talks take place, the ministers could discuss a range of issues, including the possibility of arranging a summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka next month.

Kang and Kono could also discuss Japan's wartime forced labor, a thorny issue that some fear could hamper the neighbors' strategic cooperation in persuading North Korea to renounce its nuclear ambitions.

Tokyo has protested South Korean Supreme Court rulings last year that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of forced labor. It maintains that all colonial-era reparation issues were settled under a 1965 government-to-government treaty that normalized bilateral ties.

The Japanese companies have not followed the compensation orders, prompting the victims to take legal steps to seize or liquidate the companies' assets based in Korea, and Japan to warn of countermeasures to protect the companies.

Japan colonized the Korean peninsula from 1910-45.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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