White House requests dialogue between Seoul and Tokyo

March 20, 2014

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(Yonhap) Amid signs that a trilateral meeting of the leaders of South Korea, the U.S., and Japan may be imminent, the White House re-emphasized the importance of dialogue between the Asian nations Wednesday.

“We believe good relations between our key allies are in everyone’s best interests, and we expect they will work together to resolve their differences through dialogue,” National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell told Yonhap News Agency in an emailed comment.

He was responding to a question about the possibility of summit talks between President Barack Obama, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit session to be held in The Hague, the Netherlands, March 24-25.

Ventrell said he has no specific announcement to make for now.

Government sources in Seoul raised the likelihood of such a tripartite summit after Japan’s prime minister publicly said last week he has no intention of retracting Tokyo’s 1993 apology for the sexual servitude of Korean and other Asian women during World War II.

The South Korean president was quick to welcome Abe’s remarks.

And then Park’s aides told reporters that she is open to a meeting with Abe.

While ordinary Koreans also hailed Abe’s pledge on the “comfort women” issue, their detailed assessment was split.

Some claimed it could be a meaningful step but others argued it’s still far short of Seoul’s expectations.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials voiced hopes that Abe’s remarks will lead to a breakthrough in efforts to warm icy ties between Washington’s key regional allies.

“We welcome Prime Minister Abe’s statements in the Diet on March 14, and consider the comments a positive development,” a State Department official told Yonhap earlier. “We continue to urge both countries to take further steps that contribute to reconciliation.”

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