South Korean President Moon Jae-in won't meet bilaterally with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Group of 20 summit this week, a Cheong Wa Dae official said Tuesday amid a drawn-out spat between the neighboring countries over their shared history.
South Korea is "always" ready for such a separate summit, but Japan doesn't seem to be, the official told reporters in a briefing on Moon's schedule for the two-day G-20 session to open in Osaka, Japan, on Friday.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, US President Donald Trump, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (Yonhap)
It is Cheong Wa Dae's first confirmation that there will be no one-on-one summit between Moon and Abe on the sidelines of the multilateral forum.
Cheong Wa Dae officials earlier reiterated that no decision has been made yet on the summit issue.
During a parliamentary session in the morning, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha struck a different note, saying nothing has officially been decided yet on the possibility of a Moon-Abe summit during the G-20 gathering.
But as allegations emerged of insufficient intra-government communication, Kang later said that there could be "time gaps," between the information the ministry gets from its foreign counterpart and that received through Cheong Wa Dae's communication channels.
There's no indication of Seoul and Tokyo working to warm their chilled ties. South Korea offered to create a joint compensation fund to resolve the issue of Koreans forced to toil at Japanese factories during World War II. But Tokyo rejected it.
Diplomatic observers say that a Moon-Abe summit may be possible in the wake of Japan's Upper House election on July 21, as Seoul-Tokyo relations are a sensitive political issue on both sides.
Moon plans to fly to Osaka on Thursday and hold a dinner meeting with a group of ethnic Koreans there soon after, according to Kim Hyun-chong, deputy chief of the presidential National Security Office.
In the G-20 session, the president will join discussions on various global issues, including the economy, trade, investment, anti-inequalities and an innovative, inclusive world vision, as well as climate change, the environment and energy.
Lee Ho-seung, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, also said, "President Moon plans to speak at the first session on the theme of 'Global Economy, Trade and Investment.'"
Moon will introduce his liberal government's expansionary fiscal policy, including a recent proposal for extra funding, and emphasize the need for G-20 member states' coordination on pending global issues that will affect the world's economy, he added.
He will also explain South Korea's push for the complete denuclearization of Korea and permanent peace.
Moon will hold bilateral talks with his Chinese, Russian, Indonesian and Canadian counterparts before returning to Seoul on Saturday.
Sitting down with Xi Jinping of China, Moon plans to listen to the results of Xi's North Korea visit last week and plans to express South Korea's expectations for Beijing's constructive role in handling the Korean Peninsula issue. No exact time for the Moon-Xi summit has been set yet.
In addition, Moon is scheduling informal "pull-aside" meetings with the leaders of Argentina, India and the Netherlands.
Moon will then greet U.S. President Donald Trump in Seoul this weekend.
Many expect Trump to visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which serves as the border between the two Koreas.
He had a plan to go there on his previous trip here in November 2017. But he aborted it due to bad weather.
Another Cheong Wa Dae official dismissed a possibility of Trump and the leaders of the two Koreas gathering at the truce village of Panmunjom and somewhere else this weekend. Trump is to pay a two-day trip to South Korea on Saturday and Sunday for his first bilateral summit with Moon since mid-April. (Yonhap)