Japan Adamant about History Issues
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon said he urged Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso to show restraint in his remarks over the history dispute between Korea and Japan to resolve the issue.
A more cautious attitude would help his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso solve the pending problems between Korea and Japan, Foreign Minister Ban said in his weekly news briefing in Seoul on November 30.
Ban's comments came after Japanese Foreign Minister Aso criticized that South Korea and China found fault with for taking issue with Japanese Prime Minister Junhciro Koizumi? controversial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine.
South Korea and China have criticized that Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi's visits to the shrine, the altar of both Class A war criminals and those killed during the war, are tantamount to glorifying Japanese'imperial past. Diplomatic ties with South Korea have been soured as Japan has launched an offensive over its territorial claim over the Dokdo Islets.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ban was quoted as saying on December 1 that European parliament lawmakers told him that they did not understand and cannot forgive Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni Shrine. The minister, visiting Brussels, introduced the comments by European lawmakers that the Europeans, who were attacked by the Japanese imperial regime, cannot accept the Japanese prime minister's visit to the shrine, an altar of World War II criminals. The comments contradicted with Aso's remarks that only Korea and China in the world took issue with Japanese politicians?visits to the shrine.
As to the North Korean issue, Foreign Minister Ban said during the news briefing Deputy Foreign Minister, Song Min-soon, Korea? chief delegate to the Six-Party Talks, would visit China on December 2 to meet with Chinese Vice Minister Wu Dawei and return home on December 3. There, he was expected to review the current status of the nuclear issue since the first phase of the fifth round of Talks and discuss ways to achieve further progress at future negotiations. "We plan to continue similar consultations with other concerned parties as well, including the United States, Japan and Russia, in early December,"he said.
Concerning FTA negotiations with ASEAN and Canada, he said, "The FTA negotiations have been underway since early this year between the ROK and 10 ASEAN Member States according to an agreement reached at the ROK-ASEAN Summit last year. This year, we have been focusing on discussing the Framework Agreement, which will serve as the basic framework of the FTA, and also an agreement on a dispute settlement mechanism and an agreement on goods trade." "As the results of eight rounds of working group meetings and two rounds of ROK-ASEAN Trade Ministers' Talks, the texts of the Framework Agreement and the agreement on dispute settlement have been completed. We arrived at agreements on most issues for the agreement on trade in goods, but we have been unable to reach the final conclusion due to several remaining points of contention,"he said.
These include the issue of the modality for product liberalization and granting preferential tariff treatment for the products produced in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, for which some ASEAN Member States still wish to defer preferential treatment, he said. "Our government will exert utmost efforts to reach agreements in principle on major issues of contention before the Summit in December,"he said.
Commenting on the developments in the ROK-Canada FTA negotiations, he said, "The 3rd round of FTA negotiations between the ROK and Canada are currently underway in Ottawa, Canada, from November 28 to December 2, for the conclusion of an FTA between the two countries. These negotiations are aimed at concluding a consolidated agreement that includes all areas of trade: goods, services (including finance, communication and transfer of human resources), investment, competition, government procurement, IPR and e-commerce."nw
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon
Korea inks FTA with EFTA
Korea inked a deal on a Free Trade Agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) on the sideline of the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong on December 14.
Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-jong and the four trade ministers form the EFTA member nations signed the FTA, which is to take effect next July. The EFTA member countries are Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein which do not belong to the European Union. The FTA agreement calls not only for EFTA member nations to immediately scrap tariffs on all imports from Korea, but also for Korea to scrap its tariffs on 99.1 percent of imports form EFTA countries over the next 10 years. nw