The Korea Herald

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Park encounters Abe in Singapore

By 이다영

Published : March 29, 2015 - 22:18

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SINGAPORE -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the funeral ceremony of Lee Kuan Yew, founder of Singapore, a sign of thaw in bilateral relations soured by territorial and other history-related issues.

Park proposed that South Korea, China and Japan take necessary steps to carry out agreements reached by the three nations' top diplomats earlier this month, according to her office.

The foreign ministers of the three countries have agreed to continue efforts to hold a trilateral summit of their leaders at their earliest convenience. A trilateral summit has not been held since May 2012.

Abe expressed gratitude to Park for a successful meeting of the foreign ministers.

Park encountered Abe at a reception Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hosted for leaders after the funeral ceremony of his father, Lee, who died on Monday at the age of 91.

It marked the first time for Park to attend a funeral of an overseas political leader since taking office in 2013.

Park has so far shunned bilateral talks with Abe due to Abe's apparent refusal to acknowledge Japan's responsibility for its past atrocities, including sex slavery, during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

One of the most knotty issues are the elderly Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japan's World War II soldiers.

The issue of sex slaves has gained urgency as the victims are dying off. In 2007, more than 120 South Korean victims were alive, but the number has since dropped to 55, with their average age standing at 88.

Still, Abe called the issue "human trafficking" without specifying the perpetrator in a recent interview with the Washington Post. (Yonhap)