Japanese Kyodo news agency reported on Saturday that a senior US official on Friday expressed willingness to hold a trilateral foreign ministerial meeting with Japan and South Korea on the margins of Association of Southeast Asian Nations-related foreign ministerial meetings next week in Bangkok.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha, among other top diplomats from the region, are set to gather in the Thai capital at a time when Tokyo-Seoul ties have fallen to their lowest point in years due to disputes over wartime history and trade policy.
“I think any time we have the Pompeo , the ROK and Japan in the same place, there’s going to be a desire to get together,” the senior State Department official told reporters, signaling possible US intervention in helping improve relations between the two US allies.
The official said US President Donald Trump’s administration is “concerned” about heightened tensions between Japan and South Korea, apparently because soured ties could affect trilateral coordination with the United States in denuclearizing North Korea.
The official expressed hope that Japan and South Korea will find “areas of overlapping interest.”