President Moon Jae-in held a meeting with top government officials Thursday over Japan's expected move to expand export restrictions on South Korea, his office said.
Moon was briefed by related ministers on the status of the dispute and discussed Seoul's possible countermeasures during the session that was held for 2 hours and 15 minutes from 10:30 a.m., presidential spokesperson Ko Min-jung said in a brief press release.
On Friday, Japan's Cabinet is expected to approve a bill to drop South Korea from its list of 27 countries given preferential trade status, which would take effect 21 days later.
The move follows Tokyo's imposition on July 4 of tighter controls on exports to South Korea of three high-tech materials, citing security concerns and breach of trust.
Earlier on Thursday, the two countries' foreign ministers met in Thailand on the margins of an annual multilateral forum but failed to narrow differences over the trade spat.
An official at Seoul's foreign ministry said that there "did not appear to be any big change" in Tokyo's position and that chances appear "considerable" that Japan would press ahead with its move to drop Seoul from the "whitelist."
On Wednesday, South Korea's National Security Council (NSC) warned of a stern response unless Japan withdraws the export restrictions.
"The NSC Standing Committee decided that if Japan does not withdraw such measures or even aggravates the situation despite all our efforts, the government will respond sternly with all means possible," the presidential office said. (Yonhap)