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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S., Japan hold trilateral foreign ministers' talks in Munich

17:39 February 15, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout; CHANGES photo)
By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Feb. 15 (Yonhap) -- The top diplomats of South Korea, the United States and Japan held trilateral talks on the margins of a security forum in Germany on Saturday, amid joint efforts to resume dialogue with North Korea and promote stability in the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her U.S. and Japanese counterparts -- Mike Pompeo and Toshimitsu Motegi -- met on the sidelines of the annual three-day Munich Security Conference in Munich, which will run through Sunday.

The three were expected to exchange views on cooperation in resuming stalled nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang and addressing tensions in the Middle East, which stemmed from confrontation between the U.S. and Iran.

They could also have discussed ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has not only posed health risks to their citizens but also caused disruptions to global supply chains that are feared to chip away at the global economy.

Kang, Pompeo and Motegi last held a trilateral meeting in San Francisco last month.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (L) and her U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Mike Pompeo (C) and Toshimitsu Motegi, respectively, pose for a photo before their talks in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 15, 2020, on the sidelines of a security forum there. (Yonhap)

Also in Munich, Kang and Motegi held bilateral talks to discuss a wide range of pending issues, including joint efforts to address a protracted row over Japan's export restrictions and its wartime forced labor.

Kang was expected to renew Seoul's calls to retract Tokyo's export curbs seen as political retaliation for 2018 Supreme Court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

Seoul has recently stressed the "temporary" nature of its November decision to put off the expiry of a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan in an apparent move to pressure Japan to retract its export curbs amid little progress in related government talks.

In response to Tokyo's export curbs, Seoul announced in August that it would withdraw from the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). But it reversed the pullout decision, albeit temporarily, in the face of opposition from Washington, the two countries' shared ally.

It was also possible that Kang and Motegi touched on the issue of 14 South Koreans currently aboard a Japanese cruise ship in Yokohama, which was quarantined earlier this month after the coronavirus was detected in a person who disembarked from the ship in Hong Kong last month.

Before her talks with Motegi, Kang held brief one-on-one talks with Pompeo.

The two sides were expected to discuss ongoing negotiations over the sharing of the cost for stationing 28,500 American troops in South Korea.

They may also have discussed Seoul's push for individual trips to the North and other inter-Korean cooperation projects as part of efforts to enhance cross-border relations and help resume stalled nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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