SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Leaders of South Korea, Japan and China will meet next week for a summit expected to focus on North Korea’s nuclear program and other regional issues.
The three Asian countries have been holding regular trilateral summits since late 2008. Next week’s summit, the seventh, comes amid a flurry of high-profile diplomatic contacts aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons.
Last week, the leaders of North and South Korea met at a border village and agreed on a number of steps aimed at reconciliation. Their summit, however, didn’t produce a breakthrough in the North Korean nuclear issue. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump are expected to meet in several weeks.
South Korea’s presidential office said Tuesday that President Moon Jae-in will attend next Wednesday’s meeting in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
The Japanese government confirmed the meeting.
“I believe it will be an extremely important summit. I plan to have heart-to-heart talks with President Moon and Premier Li,” Abe said while visiting Jordan. “I hope to discuss thoroughly how we can get North Korea to walk on the right path” and resolve the nuclear and missile issues comprehensively, he said.
Moon’s office said he will brief Abe and Li about the results of his summit with Kim. It said Moon also plans to discuss ways to boost three-way cooperation toward achieving denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea, Japan and China are closely linked economically and are also members of now-stalled regional disarmament talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. But anti-Japan sentiment still runs deep in South Korea and China because of territorial and historical disputes dating back to Tokyo’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula and invasion of China in the first half of the 20th century. Further complicating their relations, Seoul and Tokyo are key U.S. allies, while Beijing is North Korea’s last major ally.