South Korean President Park Geun-hye called Monday for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to have talks to cure the pain of history during their first-ever summit meeting, her office said Monday.[Special coverage]
"I anticipate that today's meeting becomes a broader and sincere dialogue that can cure the painful history, so it serves as a precious opportunity to develop bilateral relations," Park said during her introductory remarks for the extended summit meeting.
Park and Abe sat down one-one-one for an hour, 30 minutes longer than scheduled, before holding the extended meeting attended by officials in charge of economy, security and foreign affairs from both sides that ran about 40 minutes.
Park reiterated her position that Seoul and Tokyo should make a turning point to overcome history and leave for a future together in 2015 as this year marks the 50th anniversary of normalized diplomatic ties between the two countries.
In response, Abe stressed the need for a "frank" exchange of views between leaders of the two countries.
"I have said that it is necessary to frankly exchange the leaders-level opinion and that a door is open to dialogue," Abe said, noting that the first-ever bilateral summit would be very significant to the peoples of the two nations.
Abe arrived in Seoul Sunday for a trilateral leadership meeting with Park and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Seoul on Sunday, also the first in three and a half years.
Park had encountered Abe in several multilateral summits but she had refused to sit down one-one-one with the Japanese prime minister since he took office in February 2013 due to his distorted perception of history.
The Seoul-Tokyo summit was last held in May 2012 between then South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and then Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
The South Korean president has maintained a hard-line stance on historical issues, especially on Korean "comfort women forced to serve in the Japanese wartime military brothels during the militarist Japan's colonization of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
Abe has infuriated its neighboring countries, especially South Korea and China, since he returned to power in late 2012 as he paid respect to the disputed Yasukuni shrine, a symbol of Japan's war of aggression and colonization because the shrine honors the war dead including the 14 convicted Class-A Japanese war criminals during World War II.
In the latest attempt by the Abe government to whitewash wartime history, three Japanese Cabinet ministers and scores of lawmakers paid homage to the war shrine on its annual fall festival, while Abe, although he didn't visit, made a ritual offering.