South Korea's Park, Japan's Abe hold first formal bilateral talks

November 2, 2015 03:38

SEOUL - South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held their first formal bilateral talks on Monday since both leaders took office, seeking to move beyond a bitter wartime history that has plagued ties between two of Washington's key Asian allies.

The meeting is a diplomatic breakthrough for Abe, who has sought talks with Park amid a push by the United States for Japan and South Korea to improve relations in the face of an increasingly assertive China.

Abe took office in late 2012 and Park in early 2013. Officials said there were no plans for a joint press conference following the discussions, which began around 10:00 a.m. (0100 GMT) in Seoul.

The Asian neighbors have struggled to find common ground over Japan's 1910-1945 colonization of Korea, particularly the issue of "comfort women", as the mostly Koreans forced into prostitution at Japanese wartime military brothels are euphemistically known in Japan.

Park said in an interview with Japan's Asahi Shimbun daily last week that resolving the issue was central to better ties with Japan.

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