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South Korean ministry urges removal of comfort women statue

Foreign minister's letter fails to break impasse as local government balks

A memorial symbolizing wartime "comfort women" outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. South Korea has pledged to make an effort to move the statue.

SEOUL -- South Korea's Foreign Ministry has asked municipalities to move a controversial statue symbolizing wartime "comfort women" from outside the Japanese Consulate in Busan, but progress on this hot-button diplomatic issue looks unlikely for now.

A letter sent Feb. 14 in the name of Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se reiterated the central government's view that the location of the statue, installed in December, is "not desirable in terms of international courtesy and custom," a ministry spokesman said Thursday. The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations states that countries have a duty to safeguard the dignity of diplomatic missions.

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