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SKorean foreign minister to meet Japanese counterpart in Tokyo on fence-mending visit

SKorean foreign minister to meet Japanese counterpart in Tokyo on fence-mending visit

South Korea's new foreign minister, in Japan on a visit to mend strained ties and discuss the deadlock over North Korea's nuclear programs, was slated to meet his Japanese counterpart Wednesday, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.
Song Min-soon, who arrived in Japan the previous day on his first overseas visit since becoming Seoul's top diplomat in early December, was scheduled to hold talks with Foreign Minister Taro Aso, the ministry said.
Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Song in an exchange of greetings that he was "delighted" Song had chosen Japan for his first overseas destination as foreign minister.
"I hope both countries will work together so that these (bilateral meetings) will be accepted naturally," Song said in response.
Late Tuesday, Song and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki agreed in a meeting to seek an early resumption of the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program, Kyodo News agency reported, citing an unidentified government official.
Song's trip comes after six-nation talks on curbing the North's nuclear ambitions failed last week in Beijing.
North Korea pledged last year to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for security guarantees and aid, but later boycotted negotiations to protest U.S. financial restrictions placed on North Korean bank deposits over alleged financial crimes.
During Song's trip to Japan, the two sides are also expected to discuss steps to mend strained ties, including a possible visit by South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun to Japan for the first time since June 2003, according to South Korea's Foreign Ministry.
Bilateral ties have been frayed by territorial and historical disputes, including a row over former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to a war shrine that honors Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals.
The visits angered many on the Korean Peninsula, which Japan ruled as a colony in 1910-45.
The frosty relations began to thaw, however, after Abe made a fence-mending trip to Seoul in October, less than a month after taking office.
Song, Seoul's former top nuclear envoy, succeeded Ban Ki-moon, who will become the secretary-general of the United Nations in January.


Updated : 2021-08-01 10:33 GMT+08:00