Foreign ministers of S.Korea, China, Japan to discuss trilateral summit

SEOUL (Reuters) – The foreign ministers of South Korea, China and Japan will meet for talks in South Korea on Sunday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Friday, as the three countries seek to hold their first leaders’ summit in four years.

The neighbours had agreed to hold a summit every year starting in 2008 to foster regional cooperation, but the plan has been dogged by bilateral feuds and the COVID-19 pandemic. Their last summit was in 2019.

The meeting of foreign ministers, which will take place in the South Korean port city of Busan, is also the first such meeting since 2019. In September, senior diplomats from the three countries agreed to arrange a meeting of their leaders at the “earliest convenient time.”

“The foreign ministers plan to exchange views extensively on the direction of development of trilateral cooperation including preparations for a ninth trilateral summit, and regional and global issues,” the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministers will also hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines, it added.

The talks come as South Korea and Japan have seen improving ties and also deepening security cooperation with the United States amid concerns over China’s growing regional influence.

Beijing has previously warned that U.S. efforts to strengthen ties with South Korea and Japan could increase tension and confrontation in the region.

The meeting in Busan also comes after North Korea said this week it had placed its first spy satellite in orbit, drawing international condemnation for violating U.N. resolutions that bar its use of technology applicable to ballistic missile programs.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park and Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Ed Davies and Raju Gopalakrishnan)