China has sounded out Japan and South Korea on holding another trilateral summit in December in Beijing, hoping to further ramp up cooperation on denuclearizing North Korea, diplomatic sources said.
With the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea having held the previous summit in Tokyo just last month, it would be unusual for another trilateral meeting of this caliber to be held twice in the same year.
China, the North’s economic benefactor, appears to be pushing for consecutive summits to ensure it has an edge on the denuclearization issue in the wake of last week’s historic U.S.-North Korea summit, political commentators say.
During the summit last Tuesday in Singapore, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Kim promised U.S. President Donald Trump that he would work toward the “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
It was the first summit ever held between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.
The Chinese government also told Japan that it will receive Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for an official visit to China around the time of the envisaged trilateral summit, the sources said.
When Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in May, they agreed to work together toward the complete denuclearization of North Korea. Meeting Li bilaterally, Abe expressed a desire to visit China by the end of this year.
By organizing a second trilateral summit in the same year, China may want to show the United States that the three Northeast Asian countries are unified, since Beijing and Washington are mired in a steadily growing trade dispute.