SEOUL – South Korea, Japan and China have agreed to try to arrange a trilateral summit despite their frosty relations over contrasting perceptions of wartime history and territorial disputes.
The agreement was reached Thursday at a meeting in Seoul of senior diplomats from the three countries, according to a statement released by South Korea’s Foreign Ministry. They failed, however, to agree on when to hold the summit.
“Participants recognized the importance of a summit among the three countries and agreed to make joint efforts toward that end,” the statement said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Kyung-soo and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin attended the meeting.
China has said it will not hold a summit or other high-level talks with Japan unless Tokyo recognizes there is a “territorial dispute” between the two countries over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
South Korea’s ties with Japan have become frostier over differing interpretations of wartime history and the dispute over the South Korean-controlled islets in the Sea of Japan known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.
At Thursday’s meeting, “the three countries agreed the trilateral cooperative system is an important framework of cooperation needed to preserve peace, stability and common prosperity in Northeast Asia,” the statement said.
Among the topics discussed at the meeting were a review of various cooperative projects in the economic, environmental, educational and cultural fields, and the possibility of cooperation in the fields of cybersecurity, academia, legislatures and exchange of business people, the statement said.
The diplomats also exchanged views on a broad range of regional and international issues.
Before the meeting, there was speculation the sides might consider holding a trilateral summit by the end of the year despite the frayed relations.
South Korea, as host country of the three-nation dialogue for 2013, tried to arrange a summit in May between Park Geun-hye, Shinzo Abe and Li Keqiang, but the plans fell apart due to deteriorating relations.
After the meeting, Sugiyama said Tokyo will continue to support South Korea as host country of the dialogue. He declined to comment on whether a summit could be held by the end of the year, saying it is too early to comment on future developments.
Sugiyama was to hold hold vice foreign ministerial talks with South Korea on Friday.