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Moon, Abe break ice in Bangkok in 13 months

Posted November. 05, 2019 07:36,   

Updated November. 05, 2019 07:36


South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe conversed for 11 minutes in Bangkok, Thailand on Monday, the first talk in 13 months. Some cautiously suggest that this talk could provide a breakthrough for the prolonged disputes between the two nations.

On his trip to Thailand for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit Plus Three (China, Japan and South Korea) summit, the South Korean president had a talk with Abe in the waiting room at “Novotel Bangkok Impact.” The talk was not prearranged, but Moon who saw Abe at Hotel Novotel walked up to him and suggested having a brief conversation. The two leaders talked for 11 minutes from 8:35 a.m. without involving anyone else except for interpreters.

The South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said any pressing issues were not discussed including Japan’s export controls and GSOMIA, which will end at midnight on Nov. 23. With the two countries still disagreeing on the issue of wartime forced labor compensation, which has triggered the contention, Japan’s stance has not changed much. After the talk, the Japanese government said in a press release that it expressed Japan’s basic stance on resolving the current issues. However, some hope that this brief conversation could lead to further discussion for settling the disputes. In the meantime, presidential spokesperson Go Min-jeong said that hopefully the bilateral issues will be resolved via dialogue.

Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com