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Meeting Suga at G-7 'precious' occasion for new beginning in S. Korea-Japan relations: Moon

This photo provided by the British Prime Minister's Office shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in (2nd from R in the first row) posing for a picture with leaders attending the Group of Seven summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain, on Saturday. (British Prime Minister's Office)
This photo provided by the British Prime Minister's Office shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in (2nd from R in the first row) posing for a picture with leaders attending the Group of Seven summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain, on Saturday. (British Prime Minister's Office)
President Moon Jae-in has shared his thoughts on meeting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in person for the first time at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Britain, describing the experience as "precious" in terms of potentially improving the two nations' frayed bilateral relationship.

On Saturday, Moon "exchanged greetings" with Suga just before the start of an expanded session of the G-7 summit at Carbis Bay Hotel & Estate in Cornwall, Britain, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

Though the two did not hold an official or informal discussion, the encounter marked the first in-person meeting between the leaders since Suga took office last September.

"The first face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Suga was a precious occasion, which may serve as a new beginning in terms of South Korea-Japan relations," Moon said Sunday in a social media post to share his thoughts on attending this year's G-7 summit.

Moon also suggested that he had hoped to hold discussions with Suga on the sidelines of the summit.

"It's a shame that (the exchange) could not be followed through into a meeting," the president said.

South Korea is not a G-7 member but was invited to this year's summit as a guest nation, along with Australia, India and South Africa.

Seoul-Tokyo relations are currently at a low point following renewed disputes over the issues of wartime forced labor and sexual slavery of Koreans during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.

Moon also shared details of his talks with other G-7 leaders, mentioning discussions of vaccine development cooperation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a promise for cooperation in cutting-edge technology industries with French President Emmanuel Macron.

"Many countries want to cooperate with us," Moon said, describing such hopes for strengthened ties as a "proud achievement" of South Korean citizens.

Moon arrived in Vienna on Sunday for a three-day state visit and plans to have summit talks Monday with President Alexander Van der Bellen and hold a meeting with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on improving bilateral relations. (Yonhap)

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