A foreign ministry official will travel to Washington this week for talks with his counterpart on economic issues, the ministry said Tuesday, amid speculation that the two sides may also discuss Japan's economic retaliatory measures against Seoul.
Kim Hee-sang, director-general for bilateral economic affairs, will meet with Roland de Marcellus, acting deputy assistant secretary for international finance and development at the State Department, according to Seoul officials.
"There will be concrete discussions on expanding economic cooperation between the two countries ... and strengthening ties in the fields of health, the empowerment of women, and energy," the ministry said in a release.
The meeting is largely aimed at preparing for high-level economic talks expected to take place around the end of the year.
But the meeting could additionally touch on tensions between Seoul and Tokyo over Japan's restrictions on exports to South Korea.
Kim is also scheduled to meet Marc Knapper, deputy assistant secretary for Korea and Japan at the State Department's bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee plans to visit the US as early as next week to discuss the issue.
South Korea hopes the United States will play a role in resolving the row with Japan.
Japan imposed the export curbs in retaliation for last year's decisions by South Korea's Supreme Court that Japanese companies should compensate Korean victims of wartime forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.
Tokyo has strongly protested the decisions, arguing that all compensation issues between the two countries were settled under a 1965 state-to-state treaty that normalized their relations.
On Monday, President Moon Jae-in called for a diplomatic solution to the dispute and urged Japan to withdraw what he described as a politically motivated measure. (Yonhap)