East Asia summit delayed again

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East Asia summit delayed again

A trilateral summit between the leaders of Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing originally slated for next month has been delayed again amid rocky Sino-Japanese relations.

The three neighbors have held a summit every year since 2008, but this will be the first time for the annual trilateral summit to be delayed due to a scheduling failure.

A high-ranking Korean foreign affairs official stated that the Korean government at the beginning of this month proposed to the Japanese and Chinese governments to hold a trilateral summit in Seoul on May 25-26.

But while Tokyo immediately agreed to attend, Beijing requested for the summit “to be delayed.”

The source further said that because of Beijing’s position, “in the current situation, the three countries cannot hold a summit next month.”

A diplomat with the Japanese Embassy in Seoul also stated, “China has not been pushing for a summit in May.” As all three governments have seen administration changes in the past several months, the summit would be an opportunity to discuss pertinent Northeast Asian issues.

But Japan and China continue to be at odds over the disputed Senkaku, or Diaoyu, islands in the East China Sea.

The Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported yesterday that the meeting may be postponed until the fall and said it “appears to be because of the tension surrounding the territorial dispute regarding Senkaku Islands.”

A Korean official in foreign affairs stated that “Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s intention is decisively being reflected. If the trilateral summit is held in May, Premier Li, who was inaugurated in March, may be pushed to hold his first bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.”

By Chang Se-jeong, Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.k]
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