South Korea, Japan start summit after three-year hiatus

Seoul: South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe started their first-ever summit meeting in Seoul on Monday after an extended diplomatic freeze.

Park’s office Cheong Wa Dae said the bilateral meeting started at about 10.05 a.m. local time (0105 GMT) in the presidential Blue House that is scheduled to run for about 90 minutes, Xinhua news agency reported.

Park has encountered Abe in several multilateral summits, but she had refused to sit down one-on-one with the Japanese prime minister, since he took office in February 2013, due to his distorted perception of history.

The Seoul-Tokyo summit was last held in May 2012 between then South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and then Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

The bilateral summit was held on the sidelines of a trilateral leadership meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Seoul on Sunday, the first in three and a half years.

The South Korean president has maintained a hard-line stance on historical issues, especially on Korean “comfort women” forced to serve in the Japanese wartime military brothels during the militarist Japan’s colonization of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.