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Top diplomats of S. Korea, Japan to hold talks in New York this week

The top diplomats of South Korea and Japan will hold talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York this week, an informed source said Tuesday, amid tensions over Tokyo's export curbs and wartime forced labor.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her new Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, will meet on Thursday afternoon (local time) for the first time since the latter was appointed in Tokyo's Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month.

The two sides are expected to exchange their views on how to address the strains in the bilateral relationship caused by Japan's new export restrictions, including its decision to remove South Korea from the "whitelist" of favored trade partners.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (Yonhap)
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (Yonhap)

Seoul views Tokyo's export curbs as political retaliation for last year's South Korean Supreme Court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

In response to Tokyo's export curbs, Seoul formally removed Tokyo from its own list of trusted trade partners last Wednesday and filed a complaint against Tokyo at the World Trade Organization on Sept. 11.

Despite tensions, both Seoul and Tokyo have shown their desire to continue dialogue among their diplomatic authorities. On Friday, the two sides held director-general-level diplomatic talks in Tokyo.

On Wednesday morning, Kang also plans to hold talks with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula and issues of mutual concern, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

Meanwhile, chances appear low that the top diplomats of South Korea, the US and Japan will hold a trilateral meeting during the UN gathering this week, a source said.

Speculation has arisen that Washington may seek such a trilateral meeting to help defuse the tensions between the two allies. (Yonhap)