Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori has refused to hold a press conference with his South Korean counterpart in Washington amid the escalation of the dispute over the Takeshima Islands (called Dokdo Islands by Seoul), Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Japan expressed “deepest regret” over the trip of the South Korean police chief to the disputed islands. The protest coincided with the trilateral talks between the deputy foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea as well as a US deputy secretary of state in Washington.

“Amid the protest, voiced to the South Korean party over Seoul’s activities on the Takeshima Islands, we decided that it would be irrelevant to hold a joint press conference,” Matsuno told reporters.

The Liancourt Rocks — called Dokdo Islands by Seoul and Takeshima Islands by Tokyo — lie almost equidistant from Japan and South Korea, which maintains a small police force there. For decades, the islets have been a bone of contention, with both sides claiming they have long-standing historical ties to the archipelago, believed to be rich in natural resources. (ANI/Sputnik)