South Korean President Moon Jae-in will have his first summit talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in more than a year Tuesday over trade and historical affairs that have impaired relations between the neighboring countries.
They are on a visit to Chengdu, a southwestern Chinese city, for a tripartite meeting to be hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the same day.
Moon and Abe plan to attend a "business summit," along with Li, and have an official group summit in the morning.
The three leaders are expected to reaffirm a commitment to closer partnerships for regional peace, stability and co-prosperity.
In the afternoon, Moon and Abe will meet bilaterally for apparent tough talks.
Their summit mood, wording and the level of an agreement would set the tone for follow-up talks by working-level officials.
South Korea has urged Japan to retract its export curbs against South Korea. Tokyo is calling on Seoul to compensate the Korean victims of wartime forced labor on its own. It stems from Japan's brutal colonial rule of Korea from 1910-45.
It's uncertain whether Moon and Abe will produce a significant breakthrough during the Chengdu meeting. Their previous formal summit took place in New York in September last year on the sidelines of a U.N. General Assembly session.
Seoul-Tokyo relations have worsened since the Abe administration introduced bilateral export restrictions in early July on three major industrial materials: photoresist, fluorine polyimide and etching gas. It then removed South Korea from the "whitelist" of trusted trade partners.
Last week, Japan announced a decision to relax some of the export curbs, which Moon's office said was insufficient to fundamentally resolve the problem. The Moon government earlier suspended its plan to terminate an accord with Japan on exchanging military information.
After talks with Abe, Moon is scheduled to return to Seoul, wrapping up a two-day trip to China. (Yonhap)