Seoul's chief diplomat Chung Eui-yong said he is willing to meet his Japanese counterpart at any time, and in any manner, whether bilaterally or trilaterally with the U.S., amid icy Seoul-Tokyo ties over historical and other issues.
Chung said during Wednesday's press briefing that the Korean government will sternly act on Japan's distortion of history and territory, but is ready for cooperation with Tokyo in other areas.
"I will continue efforts for communication with Japan. Personally, I hope a South Korea-Japan foreign ministers' meeting will be held early."
When it comes to any mediation by the U.S., Chung said Seoul will welcome any help from Washington, but basically, the two sides themselves should be working to resolve the issues.
The foreign minister added that Seoul's foreign ministry has sent a senior diplomat in charge of Asia and Pacific affairs to Japan for talks at a higher working level.
On the issue of South Korea's position between the U.S. and China, Chung said it is not a black and white choice, adding there are various areas for cooperation, including Korean Peninsula affairs, health issues and tackling climate change.
"Our basic stance is clear and never ambiguous. The South Korean government is firm that it will seek a harmonious South Korea-China relationship based on a strong South Korea-U.S. alliance. I say this repeatedly, that the U.S.-China issue is never our concern of choice. Neither the U.S. nor China has demanded that to us."
When the South Korean foreign minister sits down with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi this week, the two sides are to discuss Korean Peninsula issues, as well as bilateral issues, including a possible visit to Seoul by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Regarding North Korea's harsh criticism of the South Korean President for expressing concerns on the North's recent missile launches, the foreign minister said it is no help to the efforts for peace and security on the peninsula.
"While expressing regrets over Pyeongyang's backlash, Seoul's foreign minister yet again urged North Korea to join the push for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, as had been promised by the leaders of the two Koreas.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News."