S. Korea, Japan respond to economic mess

Jan. 12, 2009 at 8:02 AM
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SEOUL, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- South Korean and Japanese leaders said Monday recurring disputes won't bar the two countries from working together to fend off a potential economic downturn.

"There have been difficult times due to various reasons, but when we look back we see there was never a time when we moved backward, though there were times when we wavered," South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said during a joint news conference in Seoul with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso.

The leaders have been engaged recently in shuttle diplomacy, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported Monday.

The Lee-Aso meeting in Seoul is the fifth since the Japanese prime minister took office in September. It came after Japan announced plans to conduct an underwater survey in waters between the two nations, which has been seen as a Japanese attempt to claim some South Korean islets in the East Sea, Yonhap reported.

Aso said the matter was not discussed Monday, noting the floundering global economy trumped other issues on the summit's agenda. Lee said he and Aso agreed to coordinate their countries' economic policies to better maximize their impact, the news agency said.

"In particular, we agreed to closely cooperate on reforming our financial systems, drawing up macro-economic policies and in dealing with protective trade blocs ahead of the G-20 summit scheduled to be held in London in April," the South Korean president said.

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