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Friday, September 19, 2014, 22:02

Abe seeks summit with S.Korea's Park amid frosty tie

By Reuters
 Abe seeks summit with S.Korea's Park amid frosty tie

South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrive for a trilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama (not seen) at the US ambassador's residence in The Hague on March 25, 2014 after they attended the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). Obama hosted the much-anticipated first meeting between the Asian leaders with relations between Tokyo and Seoul at their lowest ebb in years, mired in emotive issues linked to Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule and a territorial dispute, as well as Japan's use of South Korean "comfort women" sex slaves in wartime brothels. (AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB)

SEOUL/TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked South Korean President Park Geun-hye for a summit meeting in a letter handed over on Friday, seeking a breakthrough in the two countries' frosty ties over Japan's wartime past, including running military brothels.

Abe, in the letter handed to Park by former Japanese premier Yoshiro Mori who was visiting Seoul, mentioned the 50th anniversary of the neighbors' diplomatic ties next year and said he hoped for efforts by the two sides to improve relations.

"Prime Minister Abe said in the letter ... that he eagerly hoped to be able to meet on the occasion of an international conference to be held this fall," Park's office said in a statement.

The two leaders are expected to attend the summit meeting of Asian and European leaders in Italy in October and of leaders of the APEC grouping in November in Beijing.

Relations have chilled over the past two years, chiefly over the issue of Korean "comfort women" - those forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II.

Park did not immediately respond to Abe's invitation to a summit but said it was important for genuine efforts to be made to restore the honor of the victims of wartime sexual slavery, who are ageing and are "in the final 55 minutes" of their lives.

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