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G-20 foreign ministers to gather in Nagoya, S. Korea may be no-show

A police officer stands guard in front of the venue for a meeting of Group of 20 foreign ministers in the central Japan city of Nagoya on Nov. 21, 2019, a day before the start of the two-day meeting. (Kyodo)

NAGOYA (Kyodo) -- Foreign ministers from the Group of 20 countries will gather Friday in the central Japan city of Nagoya for a two-day meeting, though South Korea's attendance remained in question just hours before the planned expiration of a military accord with Tokyo amid long-running tensions over wartime history.

The attendance of Kang Kyung Wha, Seoul's top diplomat, was in focus as the clock ticked on a military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo that is set to expire at midnight.

Japan's Foreign Ministry said Thursday that whether Kang would attend was still "pending."

The General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, was signed in November 2016 to allow the two U.S. allies to directly share intelligence, especially that related to the threat posed by North Korean missiles and nuclear weapons.

Seoul said in August it would not renew the pact, a response to Tokyo's decision to tighten controls on technology exports to South Korea after court rulings in the country ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation over wartime forced labor.

While Kang's attendance was in doubt, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was slated to hold a series of one-on-one meetings with counterparts on Friday, including Russia's Sergey Lavrov.

As their countries' top negotiators for a post-World War II peace treaty, the two are expected to exchange views on joint economic projects envisioned as a trust-building exercise on a group of disputed islands. They will also likely discuss plans for Motegi to visit Russia next month.

At the G-20 conference, the last of a series of G-20 ministerial gatherings Japan has hosted this year, Motegi hopes to discuss reform of the World Trade Organization.

G-20 leaders agreed at a summit in June that while "international trade and investment are important engines of growth," it is necessary to improve the Geneva-based body's dispute settlement system.

Sustainable development goals and growth on the African continent are also among the issues Japan hopes to focus on, though other concerns such as the trade war between the United States and China, and North Korea's nuclear and missile programs may also come up.

Motegi will also meet with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Monday in Tokyo to discuss preparations for Chinese President Xi Jinping visit as a state guest next spring.

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