The top diplomats of South Korea and Japan were set to hold bilateral talks on the margins of the foreign ministerial meeting of the Group of 20 countries in Nagoya on Saturday, a day after Seoul suspended the expiry of a bilateral military information-sharing pact.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will meet her Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, a source said, apparently to discuss Seoul's decision on the postponement of the termination of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (front row, second from right) and Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi (front row, fifth from left) on Saturday pose for official photograph at the Group of 20 ministerial summit held in Nagoya, Japan. (Yonhap)
Korea's National Security Council finalized the decision amid Washington's extraordinary pressure on Seoul to stay in the military pact, which it sees as a crucial tool to foster its trilateral security cooperation with the Asian allies.
The dramatic decision capped weeks of diplomatic efforts among Seoul, Tokyo and Washington to forestall the expiry of GSOMIA, which was set to come at midnight Friday unless Seoul made the decision.
Seoul announced the decision to end GSOMIA in August in response to Tokyo's export curbs seen as political retaliation for last year's Korea Supreme Court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the peninsula.
Despite the suspension of the GSOMIA termination, the two countries still have much work to do to settle their dispute. They plan to resume director general-level talks on the export control issues and are expected to continue their diplomatic efforts to explore a compromise on the forced labor issue.
Kang and Motegi last met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September.
Also on the sidelines of the G-20 gathering, Kang plans to bilaterally meet US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.
The US State Department welcomed the suspension of the GSOMIA termination and encouraged Seoul and Tokyo to continue "sincere discussions to ensure a lasting solution to historic issues."