Top diplomats from S. Korea, Japan to hold talks in Brunei

By Kim Deok-hyun

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei, June 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se will hold a one-on-one meeting with his Japanese counterpart in Brunei, a Seoul official said Sunday, marking the first ministerial meeting between the two nations since their new governments came to power.

Yun and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida are set to hold talks on Monday afternoon on the sidelines of the annual security forum hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Brunei, the senior official at Seoul's foreign ministry said.

At the top of the talks between Yun and Kishida will be how to better coordinate their policy toward North Korea and thaw their bilateral relations that have been strained by history-related issues, the official said on the condition of anonymity.

"Our principle stance is that we will take a stern approach toward Japan with regards to history issues, while continuing cooperation in other outstanding matters," the official said.

Top diplomats from South Korea and Japan had previously met on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum, but South Korean officials had ruled out such a meeting this year, citing chilly relations over their shared history.

The planned Yun-Kishida meeting, which will be held hours after trilateral talks here among Yun, Kishida and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, would be the first high-level talks between the countries since South Korean President Park Geun-hye took office in February.

The U.S. has been working to try to repair ties between South Korea and Japan with the aim of bolstering the three-way coordination against North Korea's nuclear standoff.

Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony from 1910-45. Seoul-Tokyo ties have deteriorated recently over a series of controversial remarks and actions by Japanese leaders glossing over their country's colonial and wartime atrocities.

Yun canceled his planned visit to Japan in April in a diplomatic protest against a visit by Japanese leaders to a controversial war shrine in Tokyo.

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