Abe, Moon vow to improve strained ties

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) meeting South Korean President Moon Jae In in Pyeongchang yesterday, ahead of the opening ceremony for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) meeting South Korean President Moon Jae In in Pyeongchang yesterday, ahead of the opening ceremony for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SEOUL • South Korean President Moon Jae In and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed yesterday to improve frayed ties between the US allies, both of them threatened by nuclear-armed North Korea.

Mr Abe had previously hinted that he might skip the opening ceremony for the South's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as the two nations continue to lock horns over the emotional issue of former wartime sex slaves.

In a meeting ahead of the Olympics opening ceremony - the third between the two heads of state - Mr Moon expressed a desire to improve ties, but stressed a need to "confront the history".

Mr Abe restated Tokyo's opposition to revising a 2015 agreement on "comfort women" in their talks, calling the deal a promise between nations and the basis of two-way ties.

Mr Abe also said he had confirmed with Mr Moon the need to maintain strong pressure on North Korea to get it to abandon its nuclear and missile programmes, reiterating Tokyo's stance that "talk for the sake of talk is pointless".

US Vice-President Mike Pence, who also met Mr Moon yesterday, said the South Korean leader gave his backing to additional measures that the United States is planning to try to curb North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes.

Mr Pence spoke after paying tribute at a memorial for 46 South Korean sailors killed in the sinking of a warship in 2010 that Seoul blamed on a North Korean torpedo attack.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2018, with the headline 'Abe, Moon vow to improve strained ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe