• Kyodo

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Japan, China and South Korea are planning to hold a foreign ministerial meeting in late March in Seoul, Japanese government sources said on Friday.

The meeting, which would be the first since April 2012, is expected to set the stage for a trilateral summit involving Prime Minster Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se are likely to discuss promoting cooperation on trade, energy and the environment, and the need for their leaders to meet in the near future, according to the sources.

The ministers are also expected to exchange views on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and counterterrorism measures in the wake of the recent killing of two Japanese taken hostage by the Islamic State militant group, they said.

Asked about the envisaged meeting, Kishida told reporters on Friday that a specific date “has yet to be decided,” and that he expects South Korea, which currently chairs the trilateral framework, to arrange the gathering in collaboration with Japan and China.

The trilateral foreign ministerial session has been suspended by the deterioration in Japan-China relations over the Senkaku Islands, a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea administered by Japan but claimed by Beijing and Taiwan.

After Abe met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November in Beijing, Park proposed a trilateral summit as she, Abe and Li attended a regional summit in Myanmar later the same month.

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