Japan’s Abe eyes warmer ties with South Korea

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TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated on Sunday that he wanted Tokyo and Seoul to put wartime enmities behind them ahead of his first meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye.

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Relations between the two countries are at their lowest ebb in years, mired in emotive issues linked to Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule and a territorial dispute, as well as Japan’s use of “comfort women” in wartime brothels.

Abe left Tokyo’s Haneda airport for a three-day visit to the Netherlands to attend a Nuclear Security Summit starting on Monday in The Hague.

On the sidelines of the event he is due to meet with Park and US President Barack Obama after Washington urged the two Asian neighbors to mend strained ties.

“It is going to be my first talk with President Park Geun-Hye and I want to make it the first step to build a future-oriented Japan-South Korea relationship,” Abe said before leaving.

The three-way meeting—designed to discuss North Korean threats—is considered a diplomatic breakthrough as Abe and Park have never held a formal summit.

Abe also said he wanted to “exchange views frankly on security in East Asia” with the South Korean and US leaders.

AFP

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