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Diplomacy

Japan, China and South Korea summit eyed for early May 

The last three-way summit was held in November 2015 in Seoul

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 3:44am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 11:11am

Japan, China and South Korea have agreed in principle to hold a trilateral summit in early May, possibly on May 8-9, several diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.

The three-way summit was last held in November 2015 in Seoul. 

At the meeting to be chaired by Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, China’s premier, Li Keqiang, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are expected to discuss steps to boost cooperation in the fields of economy, environment and culture.

The conference will take place in the same month as the proposed meeting of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

To lay the groundwork for the trilateral summit, the Japanese and Chinese governments are planning for China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, to visit Japan in April, other diplomatic sources said. Wang was promoted to state counsellor in charge of foreign affairs on Monday.

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At a press conference in Beijing, Li said he plans to visit Japan in the first half of this year for the trilateral summit.

Li will be the first Chinese premier to visit Japan since Wen Jiabao in May 2011; Moon will be the first South Korean president to come to the country since Lee Myung Bak in December of that year.

Japan’s relations with its two neighbours have been strained in recent years owing to differences over history and territory.

In bilateral summits, Abe is expected to discuss with Li the prime minister’s plan to visit China, and with Moon the issue of “comfort women” who were procured for Japan’s wartime military brothels, many of whom were from Korea.