National / Politics

Abe will not hold meeting with Moon during visit to New York

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has no plans to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during his trip to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly starting Monday, sources familiar with the matter said.

Abe thinks that holding a summit with Moon at this time is not advisable as Seoul has not offered an acceptable solution to the two countries’ dispute over wartime forced labor, the sources said.

“Nothing has been decided” regarding a potential Abe-Moon meeting in New York, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference Thursday. A close aide to the prime minister said that such a meeting is unlikely to happen.

The prime minister is also expected to decline a proposal from Washington to hold trilateral summit talks with Moon and U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the annual assembly, the sources said.

Abe and Moon last held talks in September last year on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. They have only exchanged greetings at international meetings since the South Korean Supreme Court ordered a Japanese company to pay compensation to Korean wartime workers in October last year.

Starting in July this year, Tokyo tightened controls on exports of certain items to South Korea in what has been viewed as retaliation against Seoul’s handling of the wartime labor issue.

Seoul responded by deciding to exit a military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo in August and removing Japan from its list of preferred trading partners Wednesday.

Despite the freeze in summit-level discussions, the two countries have maintained diplomatic dialogue.

Shigeki Takizaki, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau in Tokyo, will meet with his South Korean counterpart, Kim Jung-han, in Tokyo on Friday.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is considering holding talks with his South Korean counterpart, Kang Kyung-wha, in New York, their first meeting since Motegi took on the portfolio last week.

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