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Vice unification minister meets with Japan's top envoy over NK issue

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Published : 2017-04-19 17:29
Updated : 2017-04-19 17:29

South Korea's vice unification minister on Wednesday met with Japan's top envoy to Seoul to discuss North Korea's nuclear and missile problems, government officials said.

Vice Minister Kim Hyung-suk held the meeting with Amb. Yasumasa Nagamine to exchange views on security concerns and the importance of cooperation in responding to North Korea's threats, according to Seoul's unification ministry.

This photo taken on April 19, 2017, shows Japanese Amb. Yasumasa Nagamine (center) heading to South Korea's unification ministry to meet with Vice Unification Minister Kim Hyung-suk. (Yonhap)

"They shared the view that North Korea's nuclear and missile provocations pose direct threats to the security of South Korea and Japan," the ministry said.

"They reaffirmed that curbing Pyongyang's provocative acts and pressuring the North into changing its path are mutual interests of Seoul and Tokyo," it added.

Kim's meeting followed Vice Defense Minister Hwang In-moo's talks with Nagamine on Tuesday after a fuss over the Japanese envoy's request for meetings with South Korea's unification and defense ministers on short notice.

In early April, the government rejected the ambassador's request for meetings with Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo and Defense Minister Han Min-koo for several reasons including ministers' schedule. Nagamine also asked for a meeting with Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn.

The request was made after he returned to Seoul on April 4, nearly three months after he was recalled to his home amid a diplomatic row over a statue of a girl symbolizing the victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery of South Korean women.

Upon arrival in Seoul, the envoy told reporters that he was instructed by his government to seek meetings with key South Korean officials on the issue "even right away." His remarks were seen by some as "inappropriate."

Kim Kyou-hyun, senior secretary for foreign affairs and security, met with the Japanese envoy on April 6 after the two ministries rejected his request for the meeting. (Yonhap)