WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department said Monday it is seeking dismissal of a class action lawsuit brought against Japan by ``comfort women'' who claim they served as sex slaves for the Japanese military during World War II.

The U.S. government position is that the U.S. federal court does not have jurisdiction and, thus, may not hear the case, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

At the same time, he said, the U.S. government recognizes and sympathizes with the ``terrible suffering that was endured by those who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.''

The case is before U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr.

An estimated 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, served as sex slaves.

The lawsuit was brought under a 212-year-old law that gives foreigners the right to file federal lawsuits for crimes committed in violation of international law.