U.S. diplomat says talks with Japan, S.Korea ‘constructive’ despite news conference no-show – The Foreigners magazine In tokyo
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U.S. diplomat says talks with Japan, S.Korea ‘constructive’ despite news conference no-show

Written by on November 18, 2021

FILE PHOTO: Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman departs after speaking on the situation in Afghanistan at the State Department in Washington, DC, U.S. August 18, 2021. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday she had constructive talks with officials from Japan and South Korea, despite “bilateral differences” that caused her two counterparts to pull out of a planned news conference.

Addressing reporters alone after the three-hour meeting with South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong Kun and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori, Sherman said the talks were “constructive (and) substantive.”

The three officials discussed freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, the three countries’ commitment to advancing democratic values and human rights, and restated their commitment to maintaining an inclusive, free, peaceful, stable and open Indo-Pacific region, Sherman said.

However, Sherman began a news conference following the meeting by noting that “as has been the case for some time, there are some bilateral differences between Japan and the Republic of Korea that are continuing to be resolved.”

Sherman did not say what specifically had prevented the scheduled joint press conference from taking place and a State Department spokesperson declined to provide details.

The South Korean and Japanese embassies in Washington did not respond to requests for comment, but the incident comes after Japanese media reported that Japan lodged a protest on Tuesday over a visit by South Korea’s head of police to disputed islets between the countries known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan. The cluster of windswept volcanic rocks is controlled by Seoul but also claimed by Tokyo.

Bilateral ties between the two nations have also frayed https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-japan-history-explainer-idCAKBN1XW19K over Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of Korea, including over “comfort women,” Japan’s euphemism for mostly Korean women forced to work in its wartime brothels. The historic dispute has sparked tit-for-tat trade restrictions in recent years.

“One of those differences which is unrelated to today’s meeting has led to the change in format for today’s press availability,” Sherman said, adding that the constructive meeting nonetheless demonstrated that the format of trilateral talks between the three countries are “important and powerful.”

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates)

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