(Bloomberg) -- Senior officials from South Korea, Japan and China agreed to hold a summit of their leaders “at the earliest convenient time,” with Japanese media saying the meeting could take place in December.
Deputy ministers from the three also agreed during talks in Seoul to hold a trilateral meeting of their foreign ministers “in a couple of months,” South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Tuesday. China also said the foreign ministers’ meeting was expected in the next few months.
“The three sides agreed to hold a foreign ministers’ meeting in the next several months,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing. The three sides agreed to “be in communication on holding a leaders’ meeting in due course at a convenient time,” Wang added.
The talks among the foreign ministers could set the stage for a summit in Seoul.
South Korea has suggested to Japan and China that the nations hold a trilateral summit in December, Tokyo-based broadcaster TBS and Kyodo News reported, citing South Korean government and diplomatic sources.
At previous trilateral summits, China has been represented by its premier rather than President Xi Jinping.
South Korea is seeking separately to have Xi visit for the first time in about a decade, seeing a trip as turning a page in relations between the two that have shifted as Seoul more closely aligns itself with the US. South Korean national security adviser Cho Tae-yong said in an interview with MBN cable TV Sunday that Xi’s visit would be difficult this year but possible next year.
Read: South Korea Seeks Revived China-Japan Summit to Firm Up Ties
South Korea has been working to revive three-way summits with Japan and China that have stalled since 2019 due initially to the Covid-19 pandemic and which were later put on ice as a result of political rancor.
Read: South Korea Seeks Xi’s Visit to Mark ‘Turning Point’ in Ties
Beijing was angered by President Joe Biden’s historic summit in August at the Camp David presidential retreat with the leaders of South Korea and Japan, calling it a deliberate attempt to damage its relationships with its Asian neighbors.
Read: Five Takeaways From the US, Japan and South Korea Summit
The movement for a possible summit comes as the US for months has been pressuring security partners including South Korea, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Japan to comply with sweeping curbs on the sale of advanced chips — a move seen as targeting China’s tech sector.
--With assistance from James Mayger.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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