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FM Kang says S. Korea, Japan agree to coordinate on Moon-Abe summit next month

SEOUL/NAGOYA -- South Korea and Japan agreed Saturday to coordinate efforts to enable a summit between President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the margins of their planned trilateral summit with China next month, Seoul's top diplomat said.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha made the remarks after talks with her Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, during the foreign ministerial meeting of the Group of 20 countries in Nagoya, Japan, a day after Seoul suspended the expiry of a bilateral military information-sharing pact.

"That matter was brought up in the talks (with Motegi) and we agreed to coordinate with each other to make the summit possible," Kang said in response to a reporter's question regarding the possible summit.

Moon, Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to hold a trilateral summit in in Chengdu, China's Sichuan Province, late next month.


The meeting between Kang and Motegi came amid expectations that Seoul's decision to put off the termination of the General Security of Military Information Agreement would create new opportunities to ease tensions with Tokyo over trade and wartime history.

Seoul's National Security Council finalized the decision to suspend the GSOMIA expiry amid Washington's extraordinary pressure on Seoul to stay in the 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 its 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 expiry, 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.

Before her talks with Motegi, Kang met US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who was also in Nagoya for the G-20 session.

Kang said that Seoul will make efforts to settle pending issues with Japan regarding GSOMIA and Tokyo's export restrictions while asking for Washington to play a "constructive" role in the process.

Sullivan welcomed the decision to postpone the GSOMIA expiry, reaffirmed the solid South Korea-US alliance and voiced hope for the US and its two Asian allies to further their trilateral cooperation, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

During the G-20 gathering, Kang stressed the role of G-20 countries to overcome challenges and risks to the world economy.

In particular, Kang called for active, intense consultations to forestall the looming paralysis of the World Trade Organization's appellate body. On Dec. 11, there will be only one member in the body, which would make the WTO appeals process dysfunctional.

The minister also called for efforts to fend off any move to disrupt global value chains and asked for G-20 support for Seoul's plan to host a summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the southern port city of Busan next week. (Yonhap)