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Obama urged Japan to resolve sexual slavery issue: aide

U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Japan to take steps to resolve tensions with South Korea over its wartime sexual slavery, a senior aide was quoted as saying in the wake of last week's landmark deal between Seoul and Tokyo to resolve the dispute.

"He has encouraged Japan to take steps to address the legitimate grievances of the comfort women and the Korean people.

And he has urged Japan to be mindful of the legacy of history and to take steps to address that legacy," Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes was quoted as saying in a briefing in Hawaii on Saturday.

Obama has also made clear to South Korea that it's in their interest to address this issue and have good relations with Japan, Rhodes said, welcoming the breakthrough Dec. 28 deal between South Korea and Japan on resolving the issue.

"Our government has provided support to these discussions as they've gone forward," Rhodes said.

Last week's agreement removed the biggest thorn in relations between Seoul and Tokyo, and offered hope for significant progress in U.S. efforts to forge stronger security cooperation with the two allies in a region marked by a rising China.

Under the deal, Japan formally acknowledged its responsibility for forcing Korean women into sexual servitude for its troops during World War II and agreed to offer 1 billion yen in reparations to the victims. South Korea promised to end the dispute once and for all if Japan fulfills its responsibilities.

"The president has invested a lot of effort in trying to promote dialogue between Japan and Korea," Rhodes said. "So we very much welcome this breakthrough and hope that it can lead to the type of important recognition of the comfort women and improve relations between two key U.S. allies." (Yonhap)
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