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Japan PM plans first visit to SKorea

Taro Aso will visit South Korea next month for the first time since becoming Japan's prime minister, in another step aimed at easing long standing tensions between the neighbours.

world Updated: Dec 22, 2008 15:08 IST

Taro Aso will visit South Korea next month for the first time since becoming Japan's prime minister, in another step aimed at easing long standing tensions between the neighbours, reports said on Monday.

Aso, who took office in September, hopes to go to South Korea some time between January 10 and 12, Jiji Press and the Yomiuri Shimbun said, quoting unnamed sources.

A foreign ministry official declined to comment.

For several years until 2006 China and South Korea refused high level meetings with Japan over disputes related to Tokyo's wartime aggression in Asia.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak agreed in February to resume annual visits between the two countries, but tensions flared again later in the year over Japan's territorial claims on a set of islets administered by Seoul.

Lee visited Japan earlier this month for a three way summit with Aso and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, symbolising an era of smoother relations among the Northeast Asian neighbours.