Japan-S. Korea hold vice ministerial talks in Seoul

Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki held fence-mending talks Thursday with his South Korean counterpart Kim Kyou Hyun in Seoul, as bilateral relations remain strained over a territorial dispute and divergent perceptions of history.

"I had talks (with Kim) in an extremely friendly atmosphere and had a constructive exchange of opinions," Saiki told reporters after the meeting.

Saiki, who arrived in the South Korean capital for a two-day visit earlier Thursday, is set to meet with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se on Friday to discuss bilateral ties as well as issues relating to North Korea.

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai Young said that Saiki is visiting Seoul to have an informal "get-to-know-you meeting" with Kim, after having taken office recently.

The talks come after Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Yun met July 1 on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Brunei and agreed to repair ties.

Bilateral relations, already tense over a territorial dispute of a pair of islets in the Sea of Japan, known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, have been dealt a further blow by Japanese politicians' recent remarks on historical issues and visits to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which have unnerved many South Koreans.

Earlier Thursday, Yun indicated a cautious stance on the holding of a summit meeting between South Korean President Park Geun Hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe amid the current state of strained bilateral ties.

In a meeting with senior South Korean journalists, Yun said that at present a feeling of trust cannot be obtained due to "words and actions running counter to history" by some Japanese political leaders.

On Wednesday, Park urged Japan to make efforts to create an atmosphere under which she could hold a summit with Abe.

"Japan has done things hurting our people's scars like the issues on Dokdo and the 'comfort women' and an atmosphere should be created (for a summit with Abe) to move on in a 'future-oriented' manner," Park told reporters.

She was referring to the issue of South Korean women sexually exploited by Japanese soldiers before and during World War II.