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Top diplomats from Korea, Japan set for talks amid heightened tensions

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Published : 2017-02-17 11:14
Updated : 2017-02-17 11:14

The top diplomats from South Korea and Japan are scheduled to hold talks Friday, with the rare meeting expected to focus on allaying heightening diplomatic tensions over history and territorial issues, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

The meeting between Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida will be held in the morning in Bonn, Germany, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 foreign ministers' meeting.

Their talks are expected to concentrate on a diplomatic row over a girl statue in front of the Japanese consulate in South Korea and Japan's renewed territorial claim to Dokdo, two major issues that have badly soured bilateral relations.

Earlier this week, Japan's education ministry released a draft guideline on textbook studies, requiring that the South Korean island of Dokdo be stated as Japan's territory in school courses.

Combined with the territorial issue, the recent installation of the statue symbolizing South Korean women sexually enslaved by the Japanese military during Japan's colonial control of Korea (1910-45) has escalated tensions.

High on the agenda for the Friday talks is also likely to be whether Japan's ambassador to South Korea will return to his post.

In protest of the girl statue being set up in front of the Japanese consulate in Busan, the Japanese ambassador left South Korea on Jan. 9 and has yet to come back.

The ministry said Yun will hold a separate bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Saturday also in Germany.

They are expected to discuss Seoul's plan to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. (Yonhap)