Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C-L) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (C-R) agreed to improve ties in Bangkok on Monday. Photo courtesy of Republic of Korea/Cheongwadae
Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held "friendly" talks on the sidelines of the 22nd ASEAN Plus Three Summit in Bangkok, the latest sign of a thaw in relations.
Seoul's presidential Blue House told reporters Monday that Moon and Abe held a relatively informal 11-minute discussion at the forum, and that the South Korean president had initiated the meeting, South Korean news service MoneyToday reported.
"President Moon and Prime Minister Abe held a discussion in a very friendly and thoughtful atmosphere," spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said.
Ko also said the two leaders reconfirmed the "principle that Korea-Japan relations are important."
Moon and Abe also expressed hope diplomatic channels and negotiations would be used as a way of making progress in "realistic" bilateral relations, Seoul said.
The brief meeting marks a shift in attitude after months of tensions over history, trade and security.
Kim Suk-hyun, an analyst with the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul, told the Hankyoreh Abe's decision to no longer "neglect" Japan-South Korea relations signals a change.
But real work lies ahead for both sides, including the resolution of a dispute over compensation for wartime labor. Japan says Korean forced laborers were compensated following a bilateral 1965 treaty, but South Korea's Supreme Court last year ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims.
Abe also delivered condolences for Moon's mother, who died last week, News 1 reported.
Abe had previously sent the message on Wednesday through his outgoing ambassador in Seoul, Yasumasa Nagamine. Nagamine had visited the memorial for Kang Han-ok at a Catholic church in Busan last week, according to the report.
Abe and Moon may have not discussed other issues, including a bilateral military intelligence- sharing agreement, GSOMIA, or the trade restrictions Tokyo placed on South Korean companies.
Abe reportedly said that he and Moon should "try to find every possible way to arrive at a solution," according to MoneyToday.