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Seoul-Tokyo trade dispute expected to be a watchpoint at the multinational ministerial meeting in Thailand this week Updated: 2019-07-30 13:04:07 KST

Foreign ministers and top diplomats from the 10 ASEAN member states and its 10 dialogue partners, including South Korea, the European Union, and the United States will be gathering in Thailand this week to discuss politics and security in the region through various multinational ministerial meetings, including the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Though not directly a security issue, Tokyo's trade restrictions on Seoul have severely damaged ties between the two countries, and many are watching whether the ministers of both sides will meet on the sidelines of the meetings.

Both ministers will be landing in Thailand at around Wednesday noon to get started with their bilateral sitdowns.

An official at South Korea's foreign affairs ministry said that it's unclear whether a meeting between Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono will be scheduled, but said the door is still open.
He added there are a total of 8 bilateral talks being worked on right now, without specifying the countries.

And as part of Seoul's continued efforts to share the unfairness of Japan's export control measures with the international community, Minister Kang is also to relay Seoul's stance at the multinational meetings.
She will be attending 5 official meetings, including the ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers' Meeting.
The official said Seoul's aim is to have its concerns for free trade included in the Chair statements or the outcomes of the talks.
But it's not likely to be an easy fight, as the official expects Japan to be pushing its stance as well.

While the U.S. has not yet taken a clear stance on this issue, whether or not a trilateral meeting between Kang, Kono and Secretary of State Pompeo will be held is also a watchpoint.

Another point to watch out for is who will be participating from the North Korean side and whether there will be any encounter between Pyeongyang and Washington.
Expectations were high over a possible foreign ministers' meeting, especially as Ri Yong-ho and Pompeo are heading their respective negotiating teams.
But it's been confirmed that the North's top diplomat won't be coming, which has only happened three times since the North began participating in the ARF in 2000.
While other ambassadors came instead in 2001, 2003 and 2009, it's not yet been confirmed who will be coming from the North this time.
And it's not clear if the U.S. delegates will be having any contact with the North.

Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.
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