June 16, 2024

South Korea, China, Japan vow to ramp up cooperation in rare summit

Top leaders from South Korea, China and Japan discussed regional stability in their first meeting in five years on Monday, as they vowed to ramp up three-way cooperation.

The summit brought together South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Seoul for the countries’ first trilateral talks in nearly five years, partly due to the pandemic, but also once-sour ties.

While North Korea was not officially on the agenda for the talks, Kishida said after the meeting that the three countries confirmed that its denuclearisation would be in their “common interest”.

Hours before the talks, North Korea announced that it planned to put another spy satellite into orbit imminently, which would violate rafts of UN sanctions barring it from tests using ballistic technology.

Yoon and Kishida urged Pyongyang to call off the launch, with the South Korean leader saying it would “undermine regional and global peace and stability.” 

He also called for a “decisive” international response if Kim goes ahead with his fourth such launch — aided by what Seoul claims is Russian assistance in exchange for sending arms for use in Ukraine.

“We once again confirmed that North Korea’s denuclearisation and stability on the Korean Peninsula are in the common interest of our three countries,” Kishida said after the meeting, with Yoon adding that the issue was a “shared responsibility and interest” for the trio.

Analysts say there is significant technological overlap between space launch capabilities and the development of ballistic missiles.

China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and a key diplomatic ally, and it has long resisted condemning Pyongyang for its weapons tests, instead criticising joint US-South Korea drills for raising tension.

Chinese Premier Li said in his opening remarks that the three countries were willing “to seek mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation”, Xinhua reported.

“Li called for opposing turning economic and trade issues into political games or security matters, and rejecting protectionism as well as decoupling or the severing of supply chains,” the news agency said.

Yoon added that the three countries had “decided to create a transparent and predictable environment for trade and investment, and to establish a safe supply chain.”

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