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Report: South Korea open to summit with Japan despite islet dispute

Report: South Korea open to summit with Japan despite islet dispute
The South Korea-administered Dokdo islets were referred to as Japanese territory in Tokyo’s annual defense white paper published Tuesday. File Photo by Yonhap

July 14 (UPI) -- A South Korea-Japan summit during the Tokyo Olympics still is an option for Seoul, despite a Japanese decision to include Korea-administered islets in an annual defense white paper, according to a press report.

A South Korean official with the presidential Blue House said Wednesday that Seoul is "willing to hold a Korea-Japan summit" but that "there should be results" if the meeting is held, local news service MoneyToday reported.

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The report comes after South Korean presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said in an interview on local network MBN on Monday that cancelation of President Moon Jae-in's visit to Japan cannot be ruled out.

The decision depends on the outcome of prior consultations between the two sides, Park said.

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South Korea is seeking the lifting of Japanese export controls that went into effect in 2019. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe restricted exports of key chemicals that go toward manufacturing South Korean tech devices.

The South Korean request to lift trade restrictions has not been accepted, however, according to Newsis on Wednesday.

Japan's decision to include the disputed islets of Dokdo known as Takeshima in Japan in its annual defense white paper drew rebuke from Seoul on Tuesday.

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South Korea's foreign and defense ministries summoned Hirohisa Soma, deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul and Japanese military attaché Takashi Matsumoto, respectively, after the defense white paper was published Tuesday.

According to the Japanese document, Dokdo is Japan's "native territory." Tokyo's defense ministry also said the issue of the islets "remains unresolved."

The United States has urged its allies in Asia to settle disputes. A U.S. State Department official told Yonhap this week Washington seeks a peaceful resolution to the controversy.

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"The United States does not take a position regarding the sovereignty of the Liancourt Rocks," the State Department source said, according to Yonhap. "The question of the sovereignty of these islands is for [South Korea] and Japan to resolve peacefully."

South Korea has said Dokdo was annexed by Japan during a period of ruthless colonial rule and then ceded after Japan surrendered to the United States and allies in 1945.

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