SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s foreign minister told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Japan’s export curbs against South Korea are “undesirable” for trilateral cooperation, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
Japan tightened curbs last week on exports of three materials crucial for smartphone displays and chips, saying trust with South Korea had been broken over a dispute with Seoul over South Koreans forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two.
The restrictions will affect companies such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS> and SK Hynix Inc <000660.KS>, which supply chips to companies such as Apple Inc <AAPL.O>, and South Korea is stepping up diplomatic overtures to their mutual ally the United States to step in.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told Pompeo in a phone call late on Wednesday that Japan’s trade restrictions may not only cause damage to South Korean companies but could also disrupt the global supply chain and hurt U.S. companies.
Kang “expressed concern that this is undesirable in terms of friendly relations between South Korea and Japan and trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the U.S. and Japan”, the ministry said. Seoul hoped Tokyo would withdraw the curbs and that the situation would not deteriorate further, it said.
Pompeo “expressed understanding” and both agreed to continue to cooperate and to strengthen communication between the three sides, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Kim Hyun-chong, deputy chief of South Korea’s National Security Office, arrived in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in an unannounced visit and told reporters he was there to meet officials from the White House and Congress to discuss issues that included Japan’s export curbs.
(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Paul Tait)