South Korea urges Abe to develop future-oriented relations


South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun said Tuesday he hopes new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will develop future-oriented relations with Seoul and promote regional cooperation in Northeast Asia, the Blue House presidential office said.

Roh expressed the hope in a congratulatory message to Abe, the office said.

Relations between Japan and South Korea have soured due mainly to Japanese leaders’ visits to Yasukuni Shrine.

An unidentified official from the presidential office, meanwhile, called on Japan to put words into action to improve the strained relations.

“Our government attaches importance to actions rather than to words,” the official was quoted as saying in a report by Yonhap News Agency.

The official was responding to a question on whether a summit between Seoul and Tokyo could take place with Abe as prime minister.

Whether a summit can be held “depends on how the Japanese side acts,” the official said.

South Korea suspended top-level talks with Japan late last year in protest over visits to the Shinto shrine by Junichiro Koizumi, Abe’s predecessor.

Congrats from Taiwan

TAIPEI (Kyodo) Taiwan hopes to further strengthen political and economic ties with Japan, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday following the election of Shinzo Abe as prime minister.

“Taiwan gives its best wishes to Mr. Abe, and hopes that bilateral relations between Taiwan and Japan will continue to move forward in a positive direction,” ministry spokesman Michel Lu said.

Japan switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1972 but has maintained close communications and cooperation with Taiwan, which is considered by China as a breakaway province that should be reunited by force if necessary.

Lu thanked Japan for playing an influential role in the relations across the Taiwan Strait.

“Taiwan appreciates Japan for its attention to the cross-strait issues, and hopes that the common interests shared by Taiwan and Japan will not be affected when Japan seeks to improve relations with China,” Lu said.

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