S. Korea pushing for FM meetings with China and Japan next month

South Korea's foreign minister is pushing to meet with her Chinese and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of ASEAN-related conferences scheduled for early next month, officials said Tuesday.

This file photo taken on July 26, 2016, shows foreign ministers attending the ASEAN Regional Forum in Laos. (Yonhap)

This file photo taken on July 26, 2016, shows foreign ministers attending the ASEAN Regional Forum in Laos. (Yonhap)

Kang Kyung-wha is to attend meetings of foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be held in Manila, the Philippines, from Aug. 6-8. They include the ASEAN Regional Forum, which is known for being a rare international event annually joined by North Korea.

On the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings, the foreign ministry here is pushing to arrange bilateral talks between Kang and her Chinese and Japanese counterparts, Wang Yi and Fumio Kishida, respectively.

China's retaliation against South Korea following Seoul's decision to allow the installation of a U.S. missile defense system on its soil could be among major agenda items to be discussed between Kang and Wang. They will also likely discuss North Korea's nuclear threats.

Observers expect Japan's wartime atrocities of forcing Korean women into front-line brothels to be high on the agenda if the top diplomats of South Korea and Japan meet.

As for possible talks between foreign ministers of South and North Korea, a government source said that no such plans are currently being pushed but left the possibility open, saying, "We must see situations there."

   North Korea has attended the ARF annually, but it has not been confirmed yet whether it will send its top diplomat to this year's gathering.

In a regular press briefing, Cho June-hyuck told reporters that South Korea is seeking to have bilateral meetings with a multiple number of countries in the Philippines but added that the detailed timetable has yet to be finalized.

Noting that North Korea is one of the 27 countries joining the ARF, among other things, he said that an "encounter" between the foreign ministers of the two Koreas could take place as happened in the past.

"However, nothing more than that has been determined yet," he said, source from the Yonhap.

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