SEOUL — In a striking contrast to the treatment given to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the South Korean government did not host a luncheon for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after his summit meeting with President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House Monday morning, Japanese officials said.
In addition, there was neither a joint press conference nor the issuance of a joint statement after the Abe-Park talks.
To meet the request of the Chinese government, Seoul treated Li’s visit as “official” and scheduled a dinner for him.
In providing a possible reason for a luncheon not being held for Abe, a Japanese government official said, “The South Korean government most likely felt that if he was treated well it would cause a backlash from the public.”
After the summit meeting, Abe went to a Korean restaurant and enjoyed lunch with Japanese officials, including Japan’s ambassador to South Korea.
Abe and his party ordered such fare as marbled beef and seasoned ribs, according to the restaurant. They spent about one hour and 45 minutes at the restaurant, the same length of time as the Abe-Park meeting. “Abe ate all of the ribs he was served,” the restaurant said.
In an appearance on a BS Fuji programme after he returned home, Abe said Park asked him where he planned to go after the summit. The prime minister said Park seemed surprised when he said he would go to a Korean grilled meat restaurant. Abe quoted Park as saying, “Mr. Abe, you really like grilled meat, don’t you?”