TEHRAN (Iran News) – China hosted the leaders of squabbling neighbors South Korea and Japan for their first official meeting in over a year on Tuesday, flexing its diplomatic muscle with America’s two key Asian allies and seeking unity on how to deal with North Korea. Free trade and economic cooperation were also at the […]
TEHRAN (Iran News) – China hosted the leaders of squabbling neighbors South Korea and Japan for their first official meeting in over a year on Tuesday, flexing its diplomatic muscle with America’s two key Asian allies and seeking unity on how to deal with North Korea.
Free trade and economic cooperation were also at the forefront of the meetings between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu, AP reported.
Li said the three agreed that “dialogue and consultation is the only effective way to solve the issues of the Korea Peninsula.”
“We three countries are willing to work together with the international community to solve the issue of the Korea Peninsula in a political way,” Li said at a joint news conference following the meeting.
The gathering in the southwestern city of Chengdu was held with the clock ticking on a threatened “Christmas gift” from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that could reignite global tensions over its nuclear program, AFP reported.
Kim has promised the unidentified “gift” – which analysts and American officials believe could be a provocative missile test – if the US does not make concessions in their nuclear talks by the end of the year.
After the meeting with China, both Japan and South Korea urged the resumption of talks between Pyongyang and Washington.
The US-North Korea diplomacy has largely remained deadlocked since the second summit between President Donald Trump and Kim in Vietnam in February due to disputes over how much sanctions relief the North must get in return for dismantling its key nuclear complex — a limited disarmament step.
The leaders of the three countries also promised to help promote dialogue to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.
No threat to Japan
North Korean state media slammed Tokyo, saying its weapons tests “pose no threat” to Japan, AFP reported.
Still, if the North fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in defiance of UN sanctions, it would destroy Trump’s argument that he had succeeded in reducing risks from North Korea.
At the joint news conference, Abe criticized North Korean missile launches as violating UN resolutions and seriously threatening regional security, AP reported.
“For that purpose, it was confirmed that full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions remains important, and we need to maintain the momentum of the US-North Korea process,” Abe said.
First bilateral meeting
The gathering also featured the first bilateral meeting between South Korea’s Moon and Japanese prime minister in 15 months.
Ties between the two have hit rock bottom lately over trade issues and other disputes related to decades of bitter wrangling over Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of the Korean Peninsula.
The United States has urged the pair to bury the hatchet – worried their poor relations were complicating diplomacy in Asia – although it has held off on direct mediation.
China is appearing to fill that void with the Chengdu event.
“As the region’s major power, China hopes to show its diplomatic presence to the world by bringing the Japanese and South Korean leaders to the same table,” Haruko Satoh, professor and expert on Chinese politics at Osaka University, told AFP.
Li, Abe, and Moon also said they discussed furthering regional cooperation on the economy, the environment and people-to-people exchanges.
“We all advocate for free trade and promote economic integration. China holds that safeguarding free trade benefits the protection of multilateralism, of world peace,” AP quoted as Li saying.
The trilateral summits between China, Japan, and South Korea date back to the fallout from the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which devastated businesses across the region and prompted moves toward greater economic integration. The three countries account for about 24% of world trade and have tightly bound supply chains, with more than $720 billion in trade moving between them last year.
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews