Abe aiming for a second meeting with president

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Abe aiming for a second meeting with president

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to hold another summit President Park Geun-hye by the end of the year, raising the prospect that the two leaders could once again sit side by side to work on resolving historical issues and boosting ties.

Abe, who had his first one-on-one meeting with Park on Monday, is reportedly aiming for a second summit with the Korean president on the sidelines of a series of multinational meetings slated for later this month, according to a report Tuesday by the Japanese news station NHK.

The two are scheduled to embark on a weeklong diplomatic journey starting Nov. 15, which will take them to Turkey for the Group of 20 Summit and the Philippines for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation from Nov. 18 to 19. They will see each other two days later on Nov. 21 in Malaysia for the ASEAN+3 Summit meetings.

During talks with Park on Monday, the Japanese leader was quoted by NHK as saying that he hoped to “continue talks” with the president to resolve contentious historical issues “through opportunities granted by upcoming multinational summits.”

Before then, they had not held bilateral talks in the three years since either took office, due mainly to longstanding historical disputes, including Japan’s sexual enslavement of tens of thousands of Korean women in military brothels during World War II.

While no breakthrough came in their first meeting, it was significant in that the two leaders agreed to accelerate negotiations to resolve the “comfort women” issue.

Seoul has consistently demanded that Tokyo issue a sincere apology to the surviving victims, most of who are now in their 80s and 90s.

Only 47 remain of the initial 238 women recognized by the government as victims.

Abe reportedly claimed Monday that the issue had already been resolved in the 1965 treaty that normalized diplomatic relations between South Korea and Japan.

After talks, Abe told reporters that the two nations “should not leave obstacles to the next generation and go ahead toward building future-oriented cooperation.”

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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