Korean, Japanese and Chinese envoys will meet

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Korean, Japanese and Chinese envoys will meet

Korea, Japan and China will hold a meeting of senior foreign officials next week in Seoul to bolster trilateral cooperation amid continued tensions in Northeast Asia, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday.

Seoul took the initiative in proposing next week’s talks, the first such trilateral gathering in 10 months, said a Korean official, after the three countries postponed a previously planned summit due to strained relations with Japan.

Lee Kyung-soo, deputy minister for political affairs at Korea’s Foreign Ministry, Shinsuke Sugiyama, Japan’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, and Liu Zhenmin, China’s vice foreign minister, are scheduled to meet next Thursday for the ninth round of such consultations.

They are expected to “pursue trilateral cooperation projects and the future direction of the trilateral cooperation and other issues of interest to the three countries,” said the Foreign Ministry yesterday.

Lee, Sugiyama and Liu also headed their respective delegations for the 8th Korea-Japan-China Trilateral Senior Foreign Officials’ Consultation last November in Seoul. These trilateral consultations were first launched in 2007.

“We took the initiative of first launching the talks, proposed the greatest number of cooperative projects and continued to play a leadership role,” said a Korean official.

Some of the projects to be discussed include a trilateral youth camp and other mechanisms to enhance person-to-person exchanges and increased cooperation in the sectors of education, tourism and culture among the three neighboring countries.

There has been reluctance to hold senior trilateral level talks when the countries’ leaders have not yet held a three-way meeting.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has yet to hold bilateral summits with either Chinese President Xi Jinping or Korean President Park Geun-hye since he took office in December 2012. Xi and Park had a summit in Seoul in July, a reciprocation of the Korean president’s China visit in June 2013.

It has not been confirmed if the deputy ministers will discuss the historical or territorial issues that have severely strained relations between Seoul and Tokyo and Beijing and Tokyo.

BY SARAH KIM[sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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