Moon, Xi and Abe to meet in Japan after inter-Korean talks

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Moon, Xi and Abe to meet in Japan after inter-Korean talks


President Moon Jae-in, third from right, hosts a luncheon at the Blue House on Thursday with former officials who have dealt with North Korea. [YONHAP]

The Blue House confirmed Wednesday that the leaders of South Korea, China and Japan will hold a trilateral summit in Japan next month after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sit for their first inter-Korean summit.

Up until Wednesday, the presidential office had maintained officials were discussing the possibility of a trilateral summit but fell short of confirming whether one would take place. The trilateral summit will be the first such meeting since 2015.

Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the Blue House, said during a press briefing Wednesday that President Moon “praised the role of the Japanese government” in hosting the trilateral summit during his meeting with Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Kono, in Seoul.

While a specific date has not yet been announced, it will fall after Moon’s meeting with Kim and likely before a meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump. The historic summit, the first between a North Korean and American leader, is expected to be held in late May or early June.

Citing officials in Tokyo, Kyodo News in Japan reported earlier this week that the trilateral summit would be held on May 8 and 9.

With the three leaders agreeing to meet next month in Japan, the outcome of the inter-Korean summit scheduled for April 27 will likely be the discussion among President Moon, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Xi Jinping of China.

Moon is expected to share details of his meeting with Kim. The timing of the trilateral summit suggests Seoul will play the role of mediator in discussions about North Korea’s nuclear weapons and try to narrow down the differences between each party in respect to the issue.

After the trilateral summit, President Moon is expected to meet with President Trump to share the details of his summit with Kim and help Trump prepare for his meeting with Kim in the coming weeks.

In a meeting on Thursday with former officials who have dealt with North Korea, President Moon said the role of his government was to “narrow down the gap” between Pyongyang and Washington.

To coordinate with Washington, Chung Eui-yong, head of the Blue House’s National Security Office, flew to Washington on Wednesday to meet with his U.S. counterpart, John Bolton, who assumed office on Monday. The two were set to meet in Washington on Thursday morning.

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