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Chinese Premier And Japan’s PM Visit South Korea For First Trilateral Talks In Four Years

Chinese, Li Qiang, Summit
Chinese Premier Li Qiang arrives to attend the trilateral summit with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Seoul, South Korea, May 26, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Soo-hyeon

Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a trilateral summit with their South Korean counterpart. This is their first three-way talks in more than four years.

The neighbours had agreed to hold a summit every year starting in 2008 to boost regional cooperation. However, bilateral feuds and the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the initiative. Their last trilateral summit was in late 2019.

The three leaders will issue a joint statement on six areas. These include the economy and trade, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges, health, and the aging population.

Yoon is set to hold bilateral talks with Li and Kishida on Sunday. This is ahead of their three-way gathering on Monday.

Kishida also plans to meet Li separately on Sunday, NHK reported. He is expected to raise a Chinese ban of Japanese seafood imports and Taiwan, among other topics.

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Kishida told reporters in Japan he would seek “open and frank” discussions. He hoped to foster future-oriented practical cooperation by revitalising the trilateral process.

The summit comes as South Korea and Japan have been working to mend ties frayed by historical disputes. However,  both nations have also been deepening a trilateral security partnership with the US. This comes amid intensifying Sino-US rivalry.

China has warned that US efforts to elevate relations with South Korea and Japan could fan regional tension. Seoul and Tokyo have warned against any attempts to forcibly change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Beijing also criticised a decision by South Korean and Japanese lawmakers to attend Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te’s inauguration.