Political News

The Latest: Moon, Abe agree to co-operate on North Korea

Posted May 11

— The Latest on South Korean President Moon Jae-in's first days in office (all times local):

7:55 p.m.

Japanese officials have described the first telephone call between new South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe as "positive and meaningful," with the two agreeing to cooperate closely to deal with North Korea.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday that the two leaders talked for 25 minutes and did not go into details of the outstanding issues, and agreed to meet as soon as possible for further talks.

Suga refused to confirm whether Moon told Abe that south Korea's public has difficulty accepting a 2015 agreement and Japan's compensation over the wartime sexual abuse of South Korean "comfort women" by the Japanese military.

Suga only said Abe told Moon that the agreement should be "appropriately managed," but did not elaborate. He said the two sides have a responsibility to observe the deal, a diplomatic agreement recognized internationally.

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6:35 p.m.

New South Korean President Moon Jae-in has told Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe that their countries must not let their difficult histories hamper co-operation in dealing with North Korea's nuclear program.

Moon's office said Thursday that the comment came in a phone call between the two leaders that also touched on a controversial 2015 agreement over compensating South Korean women forced into sexual slavery by Japan's military in World War II. It said Moon told Abe that it was emotionally difficult for South Koreans to accept the agreement.

It wasn't clear whether Moon used the conversation to call for a renegotiation of the deal. He had promised during his campaign to renegotiate it.

The settlement, which remains hugely unpopular in South Korea, included cash payments for victims and South Korea agreed to try to resolve a Japanese grievance over a statue of a girl representing victims in front of its Seoul embassy.

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