• Kyodo

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South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki Moon said Sunday that the disputed islets in the Sea of Japan are not subject to talks with Tokyo on the boundaries of the two countries’ exclusive economic zones.

“I will urge Japan to join discussions with a clear precondition that Dokdo is part of South Korea’s territory and is therefore not subject to EEZ negotiations,” Yonhap News Agency quoted Ban as saying before leaving for Qatar to attend a regional cooperation forum. Dokdo is the Korean name of the islets. Japan uses the name Takeshima.

Bilateral talks are expected in June to demarcate the disputed EEZs.

The dispute over the islets has exacerbated bilateral relations. Near the islets, South Korea’s claimed EEZ overlaps Japan’s.

The two countries agreed last month in a vice ministerial meeting in Seoul to resume the EEZ demarcation talks, which have been suspended since 2000.

The agreement was reached April 22 by Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi and Yu Myung Hwan, South Korea’s first vice minister for foreign affairs and trade, after two days of talks to avert a confrontation over a scientific maritime survey that Japan had planned to conduct near the islets.

Under the compromise, Japan agreed to withdraw its survey plan while South Korea agreed to cancel plans to name the seafloor topography near the islets.