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S. Korea, Japan diplomats hold talks over history, trade feud

SEOUL (Kyodo) -- South Korean and Japanese diplomats held talks on Wednesday in which they exchanged views on the ongoing spats between the two countries over wartime history and trade, among other issues.

The meeting between Kim Jung Han, director general for Asian and Pacific affairs at South Korea's Foreign Ministry, and his Japanese counterpart Shigeki Takizaki came ahead of Prime Minister Lee Nak Yon's three-day visit to Japan next week, which is hoped to have positive effect on strained bilateral ties.

The ministry, in a statement, said Kim called for Japan's export curbs against South Korea to be lifted as soon as possible, while emphasizing the need for having more talks to settle the matter.

Since early July, Japanese manufacturers have to seek approval each time they try to export three materials that are essential in making semiconductors to South Korea, under new export restrictions imposed by the Japanese government.

The ministry added that the two officials also explained their respective stances on controversial South Korean court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate groups of South Koreans over wartime labor.

Last October, South Korea's Supreme Court ruled that the South Korean plaintiffs still have the right to seek compensation over their labor, an issue that Japan insists was settled under a 1965 bilateral treaty.

Lee will be visiting Tokyo from Oct. 22 to 24 to attend Emperor Naruhito's enthronement ceremony, at a time when bilateral ties have sunk to their lowest level in decades.

Japanese government sources said Wednesday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to meet with Lee, who will also attend a banquet hosted by Abe during his three-day visit.

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