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ROK leader says summit with Japan 'pointless'

Updated: 2013-11-05 07:24
By Agencies in Seoul ( China Daily)

But Park tells newspaper she is willing to talk with DPRK leader

Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye has painted a bleak picture of Seoul's current and future ties with Tokyo.

In an interview with the BBC, Park said a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would be pointless given Tokyo's refusal to apologize for Japan's "past wrongdoings".

Abuses carried out during Japan's repressive colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45 remain a source of deep anger and resentment in the ROK, particularly the treatment of women forced to work as sex slaves, euphemistically called "comfort women", in wartime Japanese military brothels.

Outrage at Japan's perceived reluctance to show sincere remorse and offer adequate reparations has been compounded by a territorial rift over a crop of rocky islets in the Sea of Japan.

"None of these cases have been resolved or addressed," Park said in the interview, broadcast Monday ahead of an upcoming state visit to the United Kingdom.

"If Japan continues to stick to the same historical perceptions and repeat its past comments, then what purpose would a summit serve? Perhaps it would be better not to have one," she said.

"If they continue to say there is no need for an apology, and no need to acknowledge their past wrongdoings, then what good would it do?"

The strain in Seoul-Tokyo relations is especially problematic at a time when the international community is struggling to build a consensus on dealing with the nuclear ambitions of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Speculation is growing of a possible return to the Six-Party Talks on the DPRK, in which the ROK and Japan both are participants.

Park's pessimism about such a meeting followed a separate interview with France's Le Figaro newspaper last week in which she held out the prospect of a summit with DPRK leader Kim Jong-un.

"I have a position that I can meet (with Kim) at any time, if necessary, for the development of inter-Korean relations or peace on the Korean Peninsula," Park said.

Regarding her remarks, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do told reporters on Monday that Park unveiled her position, in principle, about holding summit talks with the DPRK leader, noting that the ROK government was not considering a change in its policy toward Pyongyang.

ROK Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told lawmakers on Friday that the government was weighing various considerations about lifting the so-called May 24 measures against the DPRK, boosting expectations for a shift in Seoul's policy toward Pyongyang.

The ROK imposed the May 24 sanctions, which have virtually prevented an expansion of economic exchange between the two countries, against the DPRK in 2010 after the ROK Navy corvette Cheonan sank in waters near a western sea border with the DPRK.

The Seoul-led multinational investigation team said that it was a torpedo attack by Pyongyang, but the DPRK has repeatedly denied its involvement in the incident, in which 46 sailors aboard were killed. Touching on Ryoo's comments, spokesman Kim said that the government was not currently reviewing lifting the sanctions.

AFP-Xinhua

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