Relations between China, Japan and South Korea are moving in a positive direction. Leaders of the three northeast Asian countries held their annual summit in Chengdu on Tuesday and a day earlier, President Xi Jinping met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Beijing . Nothing substantive eventuated, but given historical and territorial issues that continue to rankle, the pledges to push ahead with dialogue and economic integration showed resolve to move beyond differences. The desire is understandable; from talks at the highest levels can come confidence, coordination and cooperation, essential for stability, development and growth. China and neighbours prioritise security as North Korea’s deadline nears Xi and Abe made that plain in their talks, the first since a meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka last June and ahead of the Chinese leader’s expected state visit to Japan in April. They agreed to pursue bilateral ties that Xi said would be “suitable for a new era”. Tense relations between the sides have been eased by the need to move economically closer as a result of US President Donald Trump’s trade war. But while the first dialogue in 15 months took place between the Japanese and South Korean leaders in Chengdu, there was no breakthrough in a trade dispute that has its roots in imperial Japan’s wartime forced labour. Premier Li Keqiang, Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in had their eyes on their nations working together for mutual benefit at their summit. They approved documents on trilateral cooperation in the coming decade, projects involving all three and other countries, and a joint push for the signing next year of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a free-trade area for the Asia-Pacific. Agreement was also made to accelerate work on their own free-trade zone, while promoting dialogue between North Korea and the United States as the solution to denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Development lies in such shared goals and multilateralism. A coming together of the three nations makes sense; they account for 24 per cent of global growth. Political wisdom is needed to overcome long-standing disputes and differences. But the right path has been set through high-level dialogue.