NEW YORK – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye met briefly Sunday on the sidelines of a U.N. meeting and discussed an upcoming trilateral summit with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Seoul, a Japanese official said. It was their first face-to-face contact since March.
Abe and Park, who have yet to hold formal bilateral talks since taking office respectively in 2012 and 2013, exchanged pleasantries in an anteroom before a luncheon for leaders meeting on climate change at the U.N. headquarters in New York, according to Katsunobu Kato, deputy chief Cabinet secretary.
The Japanese leader told Park that he was looking forward to the trilateral summit, which may take place in late October in Seoul, Kato said, quoting the South Korean president as saying that she was also looking forward to the event.
Abe also said he hopes Park will have a successful trip to the United States next month, according to Kato. Park will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on Oct. 16.
It was the first confirmed contact between Abe and Park since March, when they talked while attending the state funeral of former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the luncheon but did not talk with Abe, he said.
Ties between Japan and South Korea have been strained in recent years due to differences over the interpretation of history related to Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula before and during World War II.
The two countries are also engaged in a dispute over South Korea-controlled islets in the Sea of Japan claimed by Tokyo. Japan calls the islets Takeshima while South Korea calls them Dokdo.