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China, Japan and South Korea agree to strengthen trilateral relations

China, Japan and South Korea agree to strengthen trilateral relations

The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea agreed on Sunday to resume neighborhood cooperation and pave the way for a meeting of the three leaders in an effort to ease tensions in the vital region.

Although China and the United States are mending strained relations, including through a meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden this month, Beijing is concerned that Washington and its regional allies are strengthening their trilateral partnership.

Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo had agreed to annual meetings since 2008 in an effort to increase diplomatic and economic exchanges, but disagreements between the parties and the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted those plans. The last meeting between the three leaders took place in 2019.

The three diplomats met in the South Korean port of Busan for the first time since 2019, after officials from the three countries agreed in September to schedule a tripartite meeting "as soon as appropriate."

The three ministers did not say when the tripartite summit between the leaders might take place.

Chinese President Xi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol may not meet this year, but a summit between them is expected to happen in the near future, South Korea's national security adviser said. Cho Tae-yong, for Yonhap TV.

The ministers agreed to increase cooperation in six areas, including security, economy and technology, as well as concrete talks to prepare for the leaders' summit, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.

China's Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, said that the three countries should be more active in promoting regional and global development with a "more progressive approach and manner".

Japan's foreign minister, Yoko Kamikawa, said greater trilateral cooperation would help regional peace, as the international security situation has become "more serious and complicated than ever before".

Meanwhile, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin invited Wang to visit Seoul and agreed with him on strengthening strategic communications, Seoul said. Park urged China to play a more constructive role in urging North Korea to desist from provocations and begin denuclearization.

Wang, on the other hand, urged Park not to politicize economic and technological issues at a time of tensions between China and the US over semiconductors and other trade disputes.

In July, Wang had warned that US efforts to strengthen relations with Seoul and Tokyo could fuel regional tensions and confrontations./REL

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