SKorea-Japan summit ends diplomatic freeze

The leaders of South Korea and Japan are holding their first formal talks in three and a half years. (AAP)

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe have discussed a range of topics, including the thorny issue of the so-called "comfort women".

The leaders of South Korea and Japan have broken an extended diplomatic freeze with a rare summit that saw agreement on trying to resolve sensitive historical disputes that have tainted ties for decades.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed a range of topics including the thorny issue of the so-called "comfort women", forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II.

It was their first ever one-on-one meeting with Park having previously rebuffed all summit proposals, arguing that Tokyo had yet to properly atone for its wartime past and 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.

While it was unlikely to mend the many broken fences between the two neighbours, it was seen as an important step towards a more pragmatic partnership that is less encumbered by decades of rancour and bitterness.

Park began the meeting by stressing the need to "heal the wounds of the past" and the presidential Blue House said their talks did not shy away from tough issues.

"The two leaders agreed to speed up consultations to try to quickly resolve the comfort women question," the Blue House said, adding that Park had referred to the issue as the "biggest stumbling block" to friendly relations.

Abe also told reporters afterwards that he had agreed on the importance of resolving the problem "as early as possible".

"We should not leave obstacles for future generations," he said, while offering no new apology for Japan's wartime past.

Japan maintains that the comfort women issue was settled in a 1965 normalisation agreement, which saw Tokyo make a total payment of $US800 million ($A1.12 billion) in grants or loans to its former colony.

The summit capped a series of moves in recent weeks - prompted and pushed by their mutual military ally the United States - to normalise relations.

Park met Abe as he arrived at the presidential Blue House and the two smiled as they shook hands before the talks began.

It was a contrast to previous meetings between the two at multilateral events which had been studies in unsmiling, stony indifference, especially on Park's part.

Source AAP

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