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Published: Friday March 21, 2014 MYT 11:52:58 AM
Updated: Friday March 21, 2014 MYT 11:52:58 AM

Seoul set to announce meeting of South Korean, Japanese leaders

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea is likely to announce on Friday President Park Geun-hye will meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the first time in a trilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a global summit next week, officials in Seoul said.

The meeting in The Hague comes amid chilled ties between the Asian neighbours over anger in South Korea that Japanese leaders have not atoned for Japan's wartime aggression, including the use of mostly Korean sex slaves.

"As for the South Korea-U.S.-Japan (summit), I understand the Foreign Ministry will be making an announcement in the afternoon," Ju Chul-ki, Park's top foreign affairs aide, told reporters. He declined to provide further details.

The three-way meeting, if it takes place next week during a nuclear security summit, will be a partial compromise by Park after Washington pressed Seoul and Tokyo to improve ties ahead of Obama's visit to the region next month.

The three leaders are expected to focus their discussions on security tensions created by North Korea's pursuit of nuclear and missile programmes and sidestep the delicate issue of Japanese wartime history, news reports said.

The summit looked more likely after Abe's acknowledgement last week of a previous government apology to "comfort women" forced to serve in wartime military brothels, which was seen in Seoul as a softening of his nationalistic tone.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Choonsik Yoo and Paul Tait)

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