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S.Korean FM in Japan for fence-mending talks
Updated: 2005-05-05 16:55

SEOUL -- South Korea's foreign minister flew to Japan Thursday for a regional forum between Asia and Europe as well as fence-mending talks with his Japanese counterpart, according to Yonhap.

Ban Ki-moon's meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura is to be held on the sidelines of a ministerial session of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) set for Friday and Saturday in the Japanese city of Kyoto.

Friday's talks will be their second encounter since relations between the two countries were seriously frayed over their territorial claims to Dokdo, a chain of rocky islets in the Sea ofJapan.

Their earlier meeting, which took place in Pakistan in early April, turned awkward after Ban publicly chastised Machimura for backing Tokyo's approval of new school textbooks accused of minimizing Japan's wartime wrongdoing and describing Dokdo as Japanese.

Few anticipate a breakthrough in this week's talks as Tokyo remains firm on its claim to the islets, something that Seoul has repeatedly vowed to fight to the end.

Topics for the Ban-Machimura talks are expected to include the nuclear issue of the Peninsular and a planned meeting between President Roh Moo-hyun and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in late June.

Last year, the two leaders visited each other's countries underan agreement to regularize what officials dubbed as "shuttle summits." It is now South Korea's turn to host the summit in the first half of the year.

Officials of the two countries, including Ban and Machimura, have said they would make sure the dispute won't affect diplomatic and other scheduled exchanges, but Ban himself called off a scheduled trip to Tokyo in March in the face of rising anti-Japanese sentiment at home.

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