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Clinton in Talks with Japanese, South Korean Leaders


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the leaders of Japan and South Korea Sunday to discuss their standoff about disputed islands in the Sea of Japan.

Her meetings took place on the final day of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Russia.

Following separate talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Secretary Clinton says she believes both men understand the need to resolve their island dispute diplomatically.

"Their interests really lie in making sure that they lower the temperature and work together in a concerted way to have a calm and restrained approach. And I think that is being heard," Clinton said.

At issue are a series of islands known as Dokdo to South Koreans and Takeshima to Japanese.

Long-standing dispute

Japan says it established sovereignty over the islands in the mid 17th century. They have been administered by South Korea since the 1950s. There is good commercial fishing in the area and some largely-unexplored natural gas deposits.

Rising tensions between these two major U.S. allies come amid a series of Pacific islands disputes including rival territorial claims between China and Japan, Russia and Japan, and China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and the Philippines.

All of those disputes were part of Secretary Clinton's trip to Asia. She told reporters in Vladivostok that there does seem to be a recognition on the part of all Asian leaders that their region is the economic engine of what is still a fragile global economy.

"It's not the interest of any of the Asian countries. It's certainly not in the interests of the United States or the rest of the world to raise doubts and uncertainties about the stability and peace in the region," said Clinton.

She says the United States is committed to working with all of the countries involved to try to make sure that these long-standing disputes do not become a significant problems for allies or for the broader region.

On the sidelines of the just-completed summit of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Prime Minster Noda met Chinese President Hu Jintao in their first face-to-face session since the most recent escalation of tensions about islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
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