Japan, S.Korea to meet in patch-up bid

Japan and South Korea will on Thursday hold their first high-level strategic dialogue since both countries elected new leaders, as they look to repair frayed ties.

Japanese vice minister for foreign affairs Chikao Kawai and South Korea's first vice foreign minister Ahn Ho-Young will huddle in Tokyo for the 12th meeting of its kind since the two nations launched the framework in 2005.

The afternoon meeting will be the first one under Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President-elect Park Geun-Hye, as they attempt to improve relations soured by a territorial dispute.

The two diplomats were expected to discuss issues such as ways to deal with North Korea in the wake of a rocket launch widely believed to be missile test.

Ties between the two US allies deteriorated last year after outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak made the first presidential visit to tiny disputed islands known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan.

The visit sent ties into a tailspin and reawakened historical animosities related to Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule and over Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.

Abe, who took office in late December, and Park, who is set to take office next month, appear to be trying to reset relations, with an envoy from the Japanese prime minister already having visited Seoul.

Abe's first foreign guest since his swearing in was a close aide to Park, Hwang Woo-Yea, chairman of South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party, whom he met Wednesday alongside other members of the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians' Union.

In the meeting, Abe said Japan and South Korea share basic values and are the most important neighbours to each other.

Park last week called for future-oriented "reconciliation and cooperation" with Japan.

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