• Kyodo News

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Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Tuesday that he will visit South Korea on Friday and Saturday to hold talks with his South Korean counterpart, Kim Sung Hwan, and pay a courtesy call on President Lee Myung Bak.

The foreign minister said he will discuss regional issues with South Korean officials, including North Korean affairs and ways to further boost bilateral relations.

Maehara’s trip to South Korea, his first as foreign minister, will follow a two-day visit by Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa that concluded Tuesday.

Kitazawa agreed Monday with his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan Jin, to begin discussions toward signing pacts to boost cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces and the South Korean military.

Japan and South Korea have been exploring ways to enhance defense cooperation following North Korea’s deadly artillery attack on a South Korean border island and the revelation of its uranium enrichment program in November.

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