Daily Yomiuri | 20July 2008
’ROK postpones FTA talks over Takeshima reference’
Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent
SEOUL—Talks between Japan and South Korea on resuming negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement have been postponed indefinitely after Seoul said it was unhappy over a reference to the Takeshima islets in school handbooks, the Yonhap News Agency reported Saturday.
An official at the South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry said Saturday, "It will be difficult [to decide a schedule for the talks] for a while," because Seoul had concluded that the current environment was not conducive to discussing conditions toward the resumption of the FTA talks.
The announcement follows the Japanese decision to mention the territorial dispute over the Takeshima islets in the official handbook for the new school curriculum guidelines for social science classes at middle school.
The bilateral FTA talks were shelved in November 2004 over issues of history and disagreements over market liberalization of agricultural, forestry and fisheries sectors.
In April, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda agreed during a summit meeting to launch a working-level discussion to resume negotiations over an economic partnership agreement, including the FTA.