S. Korea-Japan summit at G20 gathering unlikely: source

SEOUL, Aug. 20 (Yonhap) -- The first summit meeting between South Korea's President Park Geun-hye and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not likely to take place on the sidelines of the upcoming Group of 20 forum in Saint Petersburg, a government source said Wednesday.

The relations between the two nations have been frosty over various historical issues including Japan's renewed territorial claims to South Korean island of Dokdo as well as its leaders' unrepentant remarks regarding its war atrocities.

The comments by the government source came after Seoul's foreign ministry insiders said Tokyo earlier this week proposed a summit on the sidelines of the leaders' forum in Russia.

The government official, who requested anonymity, said that "actual conditions are not right for such talks to take place." He added that it may not be easy and that a lot depends on the situation, without elaborating further.

President Park and Prime Minister Abe will be in Russia's second largest city on Sept. 5-6 to take part in the forum of the leaders of the world's 20 largest economies. Leaders attending the G20 forum in the past have held separate meeting on the sidelines.

On the possibility of an impromptu meeting taking place, the official said, "Japan is not placing much hope for talks either."

The official's remarks reflect the government's view that a summit is inappropriate at present considering the fact that Abe and other Japanese politicians have been actively engaging in rhetoric and actions aimed at whitewashing their imperialistic past.

The Abe administration has drawn ire from Seoul and other Asian countries by insisting that there is nothing wrong with its senior officials paying respects at temples where Class A war criminals are enshrined.

The Japanese war criminals were executed by the Allies after World War II for their role in starting the Pacific War and perpetrating other war crimes during the country's colonization of Asian countries.

The comments, meanwhile, came a day after Seoul's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a briefing that no decision has been reached by the government with regards to the South Korea-Japan summit meeting.

President Park, after taking office in February, met with the leaders of the United States and China but does not have a date set for meeting the Japanese prime minister.

In the past, an inaugurated South Korean president has met with his Japanese counterpart following his state visit to the U.S.

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