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Seoul conducts under-the-table talks with Tokyo for summit
FEBRUARY 07, 2014 04:06  
When President Park Geun-hye is advised to hold a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, she has replied by saying, "I always keep the possibility open. But a proper environment should be created before a summit." She meant that Japanese leaders should not continue to make absurd remarks based on inappropriate perception of history even after a summit.

Seoul`s diplomatic team is working with Tokyo behind closed doors to create an environment for a summit with Japan. The team is working on the Nuclear Security Summit 2014 conference to be held from March 24 in the Hague.

"There were under-the-table contacts (with Tokyo) for a South Korea-Japan summit before the World Economic Forum in Davos held in last month," said an official at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. "We explored various possibilities with a meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit in March, rather than at the economic forum."

The South Korean government is reportedly not seeking a summit with Japan on the condition that certain issues are resolved. Still, Seoul is having under-the-table dialogue with Tokyo to put the issue of compensating World War II sex slaves at the top of the summit agendas.

Another Cheong Wa Dae official noted, "As there are just 55 survivors among the sex slavery victims, the issue is most urgent considering their ages. Since President Park has great interest in the sex slavery issue, the possibility of a summit will open up a lot of possibilities if Tokyo shows sincerity over the issue."

The South Korean government is examining the idea that the Japanese prime minister apologizes for the sex slavery and that the Japanese ambassador to South Korea visits the victims to convey the apology. Such an approach was raised when the previous Lee Myung-bak administration discussed a summit with Japan.

The Park administration plans to refrain from stimulating Japan, which could aggravate the soured bilateral ties. Seoul believes that it should take the approach of treating the issue as a universal human rights issue to expand supporting opinions in the international community, rather than treating it as a confrontation between the two neighbors. At the 2014 Angouleme International Comics Festival held recently in France, Seoul approached the issue not as a matter of political issue but as one of universal women`s human rights issues, being praised by participants and media, while Tokyo`s political approach to the issue backfired.

Cheong Wa Dae believes that Seoul does not need to push it too hard as Tokyo has been cornered in the international arena since the visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni Shrine.

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