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Ex-PM Aso to meet with Lee to help mend bilateral ties.

TOKYO, Oct. 6 Kyodo

Former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party is planning to meet with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak on Monday to help mend bilateral relations soured by a territorial dispute, political sources said Friday.

If the meeting takes place, Aso will be the first Japanese politician to officially confer with the South Korean leader since the two countries' ties deteriorated in August over the sovereignty of a pair of South Korea-controlled islands in the Sea of Japan, known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.

Aso will visit Seoul from Sunday to attend a two-day conference of the Japan-Korea Cooperation Committee, which consists of parliamentarians and business leaders of the two countries. The former prime minister serves as acting chief of the committee.

Former Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone is planning to accompany Aso in the meeting with the president, the sources said.

In his talks with Lee, Aso is hoping to agree with the president that bilateral economic and security cooperation is important and that the two countries need to fix their relations, they added.

Messages from Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba are expected to be read at the committee meeting.

The planned visit to Seoul by Aso, who is close to LDP President Shinzo Abe, is believed to be aimed at demonstrating the opposition party's diplomatic skills before the upcoming general election.

Noda and Lee held informal talks in September on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Geographic Code:9SOUT
Date:Oct 9, 2012
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