Japan, South Korea foreign ministers to hold first talks

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's foreign minister will hold direct talks with his South Korean counterpart at a regional gathering this week, the first ministerial meeting between the two countries since new governments came to power.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korea's Yun Byung Se will have the face-to-face talks on the sidelines of the annual diplomatic and security meetings hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Brunei, the Japanese foreign ministry said late Saturday.

The two governments eye Monday for the meeting, but it may take place on Sunday, the Nikkei daily said.

South Korea's Yun called off a visit to Tokyo in April after two Japanese cabinet ministers paid their respects at the Yasukuni shrine, a central Tokyo spot that honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including war criminals.

Despite an important trading relationship and their status as allies of the United States, South Korea and Japan often struggle to get along.

Relations turned frosty last summer in a row over the sovereignty of a pair of largely uninhabited islets. They were further irritated by ongoing differences over shared history and in particular over the issue of sex slavery during World War II.

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