Park-Abe Face-to-Face Talks in Doubt

      October 27, 2015 09:31

      Plans for a one-on-one meeting between President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seem to be in doubt due to remaining differences over their shared history.

      Those reading the runes noted that Cheong Wa Dae on Monday only announced that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives in Seoul on Saturday to meet with Park.

      But the presidential office did not mention that the meeting will happen on the sidelines of a three-way summit with Abe.

      Insiders still expect Abe to come, but so far officials have had trouble aligning Abe and Park's schedule so they can sit down one-on-one.

      "Above all, there's still a wide gap in views between the two sides over the issue of women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army in World War II," a diplomatic source said.

      Originally, Cheong Wa Dae had no plan to announce Li's arrival alone. "The three countries were supposed to make an announcement simultaneously if schedules for all bilateral summits on the sidelines of the tripartite summit are fixed," a government official said. "But as China notified us that it would announce Li's schedule, we also disclosed it."

      Seoul has proposed Nov. 2 as the date for Park's meeting with Abe but is still waiting for an answer, a presidential official told reporters.

      That suggests sentiment on both sides is still too raw to arrange a head-to-head meeting.

      But the chief of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Kimihiro Ishikane, arrives in Seoul on Tuesday and may be able to hammer out a solution with Korean officials.

      He is supposed to have "a brief discussion" with Lee Sang-deok, the chief of the Foreign Ministry's Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau, over the sex slaves issue.

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