Trilateral ties boosted by young envoys’ visit

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Trilateral ties boosted by young envoys’ visit

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Young diplomats from Korea, Japan and China, participate in the first-ever trilateral diplomats’ exchange program pose with officials of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat in Seoul on Tuesday. Provided by the secretariat


One big reason Hisashi Kamogawa, 39, became a diplomat was a long-time interest in international cooperation, particularly among Asian countries.

When the Japanese national was at college in the early 1990s, he found intriguing a suggestion by then-Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad to form a large economic bloc among Asian countries as a stepping stone to building a larger Asian community.

“Now, somewhat, his idea has been realized,” Kamogawa said, citing increasing economic and political cooperation among the Asean nations and three Northeast Asian countries.

Kamogawa was among 15 young diplomats from Korea, Japan and China who participated in the first-ever trilateral diplomats’ exchange program held in Korea for five days last week. Five diplomats participated from each country, all under the director level.

Trilateral cooperation between Korea, Japan and China is another of Kamogawa’s major interests, and he grabbed at the chance to involve himself in the event.

On Tuesday, the 15 diplomats visited the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat in central Seoul, a new intergovernmental body tasked with putting into action the ideas of trilateral cooperation that are raised at trilateral summits. The secretariat, which had its opening ceremony last month, was agreed upon at the trilateral summit in May 2010, as was the junior diplomats exchange program.

They also attended a trilateral academic forum in Seoul on Wednesday. Titled “Toward a New Era of Peace and Common Prosperity in Northeast Asia,” the forum featured senior political leaders from the three countries including Lee Hong-koo, former Prime Minister of Korea, former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and former State Councilor of China, Tang Jiaxuan.

International relations experts from top colleges and research institutes in the three countries also attended the forum to discuss ideas for regional cooperation in various areas, including economy and security. Regional disputes over historical and sovereignty issues were also addressed.

Hu Yong, 30, with six years behind him at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said those issues are tricky, but he sees each of three countries sharing the desire to reduce their trust gaps through dialogue, even over the issue of marine sovereignty, in which China is becoming more assertive.

The next day, the diplomats had a chance to discuss thorny issues with graduate students in international studies at Seoul National University

“Young diplomats like us will be assigned to handle the trilateral relationship in the future and through this opportunity we can communicate with each other and exchange many opinions,” said Li Qiangqiang, a freshman diplomat from China. “I think having this time also could contribute to the cooperation among the three countries.”


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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