Park might meet Abe with Obama

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Park might meet Abe with Obama

President Park Geun-hye is leaning toward joining a trilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and United States President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit scheduled next Monday and Tuesday at The Hague, the Netherlands.

Multiple sources from the Blue House said yesterday that the National Security Council, under the direct command of the president, held a meeting to discuss a summit among the three leaders.

“It is entirely President Park’s decision whether to join the meeting or not,” said one of the sources.

Presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook refused to provide details.

Speculation about a meeting between Park and Abe - which Seoul has been refusing for more than a year - gained steam after Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported yesterday that the two would likely hold their first official meeting with Obama on Tuesday afternoon on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, citing sources close to Seoul.

The report said the issue would be discussed at a National Security Council meeting yesterday afternoon and that Park would make a final decision afterward.

If they meet, the three leaders are expected to set aside sensitive historical issues and focus on strengthening their joint efforts to deal with North Korea, it added.

Another Japanese daily, the Yomiuri Shimbun, also reported on the heightened likelihood of a trilateral summit yesterday.

The offer for the three-way talks was made by the United States, which wants Korea and Japan - its close allies - to reconcile ahead of Obama’s scheduled visit to both countries next month. The last time Seoul and Tokyo had a summit was in December 2011.

Bilateral relations have deteriorated since the hawkish Abe returned to power in December 2012. Abe and his government have drummed up nationalistic sentiment on historical sore points and territorial issues with Korea and China.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]


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