August 10, 2015 11:39
President Park Geun-hye is likely to accept an invitation to Beijing on Sept. 3 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
A government source on Sunday said the matter has not been decided, but there are persuasive reasons for Park to go that would outweigh any awkwardness in attending a massive military parade there.
Around the same time Park will be in Shanghai to reopen the restored building of the provisional Korean government set up there during the Japanese occupation, and she has a cordial relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Park's trip to China was also discussed during a meeting of the two foreign ministers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last Wednesday
There Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi again urged Park to attend, and his Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se promised to make a decision soon.
Caution may be necessary because Washington, which feels threatened by China's military expansion in the region, has asked Park to give the event a miss, according to Japan's Kyodo News.
The paper claimed U.S. diplomats told Seoul that Beijing is driving a wedge between the Korea-U.S. alliance. They also fear her trip could send a signal that China and Korea are ganging up on Japan over Tokyo's refusal to face up to its World War II atrocities.
This would be an irksome development for the U.S., which is worried by the shifting political map in Asia and would prefer its traditional Asian allies united in the face of a resurgent China.
But a Foreign Ministry official here denied there has been any such request from Washington.
The U.S. also denied the report. "We did not tell [Park] to not attend the ceremony in China," the White House said Sunday.
The report comes amid rumors that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Beijing in September may be canceled if he fudges earlier admissions of guilt in his own speech commemorating the end of World War II.
"Tokyo wouldn't like it at all if Park goes to Beijing but Abe can't," a diplomatic source said. "The Kyodo report seems orchestrated to drive a wedge between all the other parties."
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