South Korea, China, Japan to Hasten Preparations for Trilateral Summit

BUSAN – South Korea's Foreign Minister Park Jin announced on Sunday that South Korea, China, and Japan have agreed to expedite preparations for a trilateral leaders' summit to be held at the earliest mutually convenient time. This decision was made during tripartite talks in Busan, marking the first such meeting in four years.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the discussions with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa in Busan aimed to reaffirm the commitment to hold the summit, seen as crucial to tripartite cooperation. Park expressed optimism about the summit taking place in the near future, emphasizing its importance for restoring and normalizing cooperation among the three nations.

The last trilateral summit occurred in December 2019 in Chengdu, China, but was subsequently halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and strained Seoul-Tokyo relations over historical issues, particularly concerning compensation for Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

A recent thaw in Seoul-Tokyo relations, following South Korea's announcement in March to independently compensate Korean victims without seeking contributions from Japanese companies, has renewed momentum for the summit. Despite South Korea's push for a 2023 summit, a senior foreign ministry official indicated that early next year is a more realistic timeframe.

The meeting in Busan also explored the possibility of institutionalizing sustainable trilateral cooperation. Park Jin highlighted the need for substantive projects in areas like people-to-people exchanges, climate change, health, science technology, and digital transition.

Another topic of discussion was North Korea's recent military spy satellite launch. Park Jin stressed the threat such provocations pose to regional stability and peace. The three countries agreed to maintain communication at all levels to address North Korean issues.

Park Jin also sought support from Japan and China for South Korea's bid to host the 2030 World Expo in Busan. Wang Yi emphasized the continued cooperation among the three countries, even during the pandemic, noting the potential for a positive regional and global impact. Kamikawa acknowledged the increasing importance of trilateral cooperation in tackling challenges like climate change and artificial intelligence.

The day's engagements also included bilateral talks between Park and his counterparts, followed by a luncheon and a stroll around Haeundae, where the discussions took place. This visit marked Kamikawa's first since taking office in September and Wang Yi's first return to South Korea since September 2021.

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