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Abe unlikely to meet with Li, Park by year’s end

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will probably not meet with China’s or South Korea’s leaders this year as the possibility of a trilateral summit being held before Dec. 31 is slim, a Japanese government source said Wednesday.

Japan’s ties with its Asian neighbors remain sour over territorial issues and perceptions of history, and the government is of the opinion that conditions are not right for dialogue between the countries’ leaders.

Abe, who again became prime minister in late December, has yet to sit down for talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang or South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

South Korea initially planned to host a trilateral summit involving the three leaders in May, but China, which has refused to hold high-level dialogue with Japan, has been cool to such talks, according to another source.

As a result, Seoul, which was to chair the three-way summit this year, has not proposed a date to Tokyo.

Sentiment in South Korea, where Japanese leaders’ perceptions of history have been criticized, also appears to be working against a trilateral summit this year.

“Taking into account the Chinese and South Korean attitudes, and the schedules of the leaders of the three countries, it will be difficult to arrange a Japan-China-South Korea summit by the end of this year,” the Japanese government source said.

Trilateral summits aimed at discussing cooperation by Japan, China and South Korea had been held every year, with bilateral talks between their leaders held almost regularly on the sidelines.