China’s Li, Japan’s Kishida in South Korea for first trilateral talks in four years By Reuters


By Hyonhee Shin and Katya Golubkova

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) -Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a trilateral summit with their South Korean counterpart, their first three-way talks in more than four years.

The neighbours had agreed to hold a summit every year starting in 2008 to boost regional cooperation, but bilateral feuds and the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the initiative. Their last trilateral summit was in late 2019.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Li and Kishida will adopt a joint statement on six areas including the economy and trade, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges and health and the aging population, Seoul officials said.

Yoon is set to hold bilateral talks with Li and Kishida on Sunday, ahead of their three-way gathering on Monday.

Kishida also plans to meet Li separately on Sunday, NHK reported, citing the Japanese government, and, according to the broadcast, is expected to raise a Chinese ban of Japanese seafood imports and Taiwan, among other topics.

Speaking with reporters before departing for Seoul, Kishida said he would seek “open and frank” discussions and hoped to foster future-oriented practical cooperation by revitalising the trilateral process.

At the talks with Li, Kishida said he would like to “firmly confirm the direction of the mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests and constructive and stable Japan-China relations”.

The summit comes as South Korea and Japan have been working to mend ties frayed by historical disputes while deepening a trilateral security partnership with the United States amid intensifying Sino-U.S. rivalry.

China has previously warned that U.S. efforts to further elevate relations with South Korea and Japan could fan regional tension and confrontation.

© Reuters. Chinese Premier Li Qiang arrives to attend the trilateral summit with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts  in Seoul, South Korea, May 26, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Soo-hyeon

Seoul and Tokyo have warned against any attempts to forcibly change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, while Beijing on Tuesday criticised a decision by South Korean and Japanese lawmakers to attend Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te’s inauguration.

The summit might not bring a major breakthrough on sensitive issues but could make progress in areas of practical cooperation like people-to-people exchanges and consular matters, officials and diplomats said.

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