July 14 (UPI) — U.S. officials expressed disappointment in Japan’s lack of response to a proposal for a trilateral meeting with South Korea, according to a South Korean press report.
A South Korean diplomatic source who spoke to Yonhap said Sunday officials in Tokyo who met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific David Stillwell did not agree to a trilateral meeting of assistant deputies representing Washington, Tokyo and Seoul.
The report follows ongoing tensions between Japan and South Korea following Tokyo’s decision to place trade restrictions on Korea that would affect the nation’s tech exports, including semiconductors, flat-screen TVs and smartphones.
The trade restrictions are designed to limit Japanese exports of fluorinated polyimide, hydrogen fluoride and photo resists. They are part of a Japanese response to Seoul’s support for compensation for Korean forced laborers recruited during World War II.
South Korea has supported the U.S. proposal to meet, but Japan has rejected trilateral meetings involving Seoul without explanation, according to Yonhap.
“The United States is feeling a great sense of concern regarding Japan’s lack of response to proposals for [trilateral] dialogue,” the South Korean news agency’s source said.
Washington has also decided to mostly leave the resolution of the dispute to the two countries, rather than intervening or arbitrating, the source added.
On Friday, U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Harry B. Harris said the United States will not intervene in issues between Tokyo and Seoul; a second South Korean source said the United States will not intervene but will support dialogue between the two countries.
The United States is effectively sitting out the dispute between South Korea, one of the world’s largest providers of microchips, and Japan, as Seoul seeks arbitration at the World Trade Organization.
News 1 reported Sunday South Korea will raise the issue of Japanese export control measures at the WTO in Geneva on July 23-24.
The restrictions are items for discussions on the official WTO agenda, Seoul’s trade ministry said Sunday.