With South Korea-Japan relations souring over Tokyo's decision to curb exports of high-tech materials to Seoul, South Korea is seeking Washington's engagement to prevent tensions from escalating further.
A senior foreign ministry official spoke to reporters on Monday on the condition of anonymity.
He said, a team of five diplomats visited Washington last week, led by Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs, Yun Kang-hyeon.
They met U.S officials from the White House National Security Council as well as local experts and business leaders.
Their key message Washington should engage.
South Korean officials explained that if tension further escalates, considering the economic structure, the circumstances will be to Japan's advantage but in the end, no one will benefit from this trade war, maybe except for a third party -- namely, China.
Seoul stressed that it does not want the trade spat to worsen any further.
The U.S. agreed that the current situation shouldn't be aggravated further and said it will look if there's any role it can take
but added that it's realistically difficult to side with any of the two countries as both are Washington's closest allies.
The senior diplomat said he's not sure how the U.S. will seek to engage.
But he highlighted that Washington is willing to, noting how a trilateral meeting had already been organized but failed to happen as Japan was unprepared.
South Korea says this is the first time that Tokyo is looking to retaliate economically against Seoul over a political matter.
Seoul says it's keeping a close eye on the possibility of Tokyo making another provocative move over the next two weeks, as Japan holds an Upper House election this week and gathers opinions from stakeholders on taking Seoul out of its exports whitelist.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.