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South Korea and Japan have agreed to drop a trade dispute over high-tech materials as the leaders of the two countries met in Tokyo on Thursday for historic talks.
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The move to drop the four-year-old dispute came as Yoon Suk-yeol became the first South Korean president to visit Japan in 12 years, when he met Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
They were negotiating in the face of new threats from North Korea with its frequent missile launches, including the firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) just hours before Mr.
The missile was launched from Pyongyang’s Sunan area and took 70 minutes to fly about 1,000 km before splashing down in the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. This was North Korea’s third weapons test this week.
South Korea’s trade ministry said Japan will lift restrictions imposed on exports of key materials for smartphone displays and chips to South Korea in 2019.
Seoul will meanwhile drop the World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint against Tokyo.
The decision is being seen as a step by the two countries to develop regional integration and cooperation on supply chains, leaving behind years of animosity stemming from Japan’s 1910-45 occupation of the Korean peninsula.
Relations between the two countries have been strained over wartime labor issues, including disputed islands and Korean women and girls being forced to work in wartime brothels.
“There is a growing need for [South] Korea and Japan to cooperate at this time,” Mr. Yoon said in an interview, citing supply chain disruptions and North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats as “multiple threats.”
Mr. Yoon and Mr. Kishida have pledged to resume “shuttle diplomacy” to increase meetings between the leaders.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing opposes attempts by certain countries to create special circles. He said that China, Japan and South Korea are important trade partners.
Additional reporting by agencies
South Korea and Japan end trade dispute after ‘polycrisis’ talks
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