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Seoul-Tokyo trade dispute expected to be a watchpoint at the multinational ministerial meeting in Thailand this week Updated: 2019-07-31 04:07:52 KST


Top diplomats from the 10 ASEAN member states and its 10 dialogue partners, including South Korea and the United States will be gathering in Thailand this week to discuss politics and security in the region at several 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.

Fielding questions from the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee on Tuesday, Minister Kang said there's a high possibility of bilateral meetings with Secretary of State Pompeo as well as Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono, and that they are working on the times.
The ministry's spokesperson confirmed Kang and Kono's meeting is in the works, along with the schedules for 7 other bilateral talks.

And as part of Seoul's continued efforts to highlight the unfairness of Japan's export control measures, 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' talk.
A foreign affairs 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.
It's also unclear if a trilateral meeting between Kang, Kono and Pompeo will take place.

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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