South Korea, Japan, and China have agreed to restore trade and security ties, in additon to economic co-operation, after the countries’ leaders held their first three-way discussions in more than three years.
After meeting in Seoul on Sunday, the three regional powers reached an agreement to restart regular trilateral meetings, which have not been carried out since 2012, mainly due to territorial and historical disputes.
Relations between the three nations have been strained by disputes over territory and resources in the East China Sea, as well as historical rows over their World War II past.
“The trilateral cooperation mechanism is back on track,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the summit with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Park Geun Hye.
The trio agreed to advance negotiations on a common free trade agreement, expand exchange programmes, and advocate the resumption of multi-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear activities, they said in a statement after the talks.
They will move forward together “facing history squarely and advancing toward the future,” the statement added.
It made no mention of long-standing disputes, namely the China-Japan row over the control of a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, as well as South Korea and China’s charge that Japan has tried to cover up wartime atrocities, including the forcing of women to serve Japanese soldiers as sex slaves.