• Kyodo

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Japanese and South Korean trade officials agreed in an informal bilateral meeting here to step up efforts to conclude a bilateral investment pact, Japanese sources said.

Vice Trade Minister Hidehiro Konno and South Korean Trade Minister Hwang Tu Yun discussed the issue on Thursday during a visit to Siem Reap for a ministerial meeting of 13 East Asian nations, the sources said.

While former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and South Korean President Kim Dae Jung agreed to conclude an investment treaty in September 2000, work on the pact has been delayed due to technical problems, a Japanese official said.

The two nations had hoped to conclude the treaty by last December.

Japanese officials said Konno and Hwang also discussed the creation of a business forum to study proposals to set up a bilateral free-trade agreement.

The Korean side called for caution, citing anti-Japanese sentiments in South Korea in the wake of the Japanese government’s decision in April to endorse a set of school history textbooks that South Koreans say justify Japan’s occupation of the Korea Peninsula.

The Konno-Hwang meeting was held on the eve of the ASEAN-plus-three meeting of economic ministers from the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus China, Japan and South Korea.

Japan was represented at the ASEAN-plus-three meeting by Konno.

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