China and Japan’s Top Diplomats in South Korea for Trilateral Talks

SEOUL/BUSAN – In a significant diplomatic development, the top diplomats of China and Japan arrived in South Korea on Saturday for a series of trilateral talks. These discussions with their South Korean counterpart are aimed at resuming the leaders' summit of the three neighboring countries, which has been on hold since December 2019.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa each landed in Busan, the southeastern port city where the talks are to be held. According to the schedule, they will engage in separate bilateral discussions with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin on Sunday, followed by the trilateral talks later that day. A luncheon meeting, hosted by Park, is set to take place between the bilateral and trilateral sessions.

Despite the significance of their visit, neither of the diplomats is expected to meet with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol due to scheduling matters. The focus of the trilateral discussions is anticipated to be on facilitating the resumption of the summit among the leaders of the three countries, which has been stalled partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and deteriorating bilateral relations between Seoul and Tokyo. The last summit was hosted in Chengdu, China.

The deterioration in relations between South Korea and Japan has historically centered on issues related to compensation for Korean forced labor victims during Korea's colonization by Japan from 1910 to 1945. However, there has been a recent thaw in relations following South Korea's announcement in March to compensate these victims domestically, without seeking contributions from Japanese companies.

As the current rotating chair, South Korea is actively working to host the summit before the end of this year. The talks are also expected to address North Korea's recent launch of a military reconnaissance satellite and its growing military ties with Russia.

Further, the diplomats will likely explore ways to enhance three-way cooperation in areas such as climate change, science and digital technologies, and people-to-people exchanges.

This meeting marks the first visit to South Korea by Kamikawa since her appointment in September and the first for Wang Yi since September 2021. Their presence underscores the importance of these trilateral talks in addressing regional issues and strengthening diplomatic ties among China, Japan, and South Korea.

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