Seoul– The foreign ministers of South Korea, Japan and China will hold their first trilateral talks since 2019 tomorrow in Busan, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Friday.
The Sunday meeting in the southern port city will see Park Jin, Yoko Kamikawa and Wang Yi huddle against the backdrop of Beijing’s growing concerns over Tokyo and Seoul’s deepening security ties with Washington.
The announcement comes days after North Korea successfully placed its first military spy satellite into orbit, prompting the suspension of a five-year-old military accord between the two Koreas intended to de-escalate tensions on the peninsula.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned earlier this month that military ties between North Korea and Russia were “growing and dangerous” and called on China, Pyongyang’s main ally, to restrain the nuclear-armed North.
At Sunday’s meeting, the foreign ministers “plan to exchange opinions extensively on the direction of development of trilateral cooperation, regional and international situations,” Seoul’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The top diplomats will also set the table for a future trilateral summit between the three countries’ leaders, it added.
No leaders’ summit has been held since 2019, in part due to diplomatic and historical disputes between South Korea and former colonial ruler Japan.
Legal disputes over Japan’s 1910-45 rule over the peninsula persist between the two countries.
On Thursday, a South Korean court ruling ordered Japan to compensate 16 women for forced sexual slavery during World War II, overturning a lower-court ruling that had dismissed the case.
Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa said the ruling was “clearly contrary to international law and agreements between the two countries” and “absolutely unacceptable”.
Beijing, meanwhile, is Seoul’s biggest trading partner, but also North Korea’s main ally and economic benefactor.
With the increasing threat presented by the nuclear-armed North, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has moved to strengthen ties between Seoul and long-standing ally Washington.
He has also sought to bury the hatchet with Japan, another close US ally.
In August, they said a “new chapter” of close three-way security cooperation was beginning after a historic summit at Camp David in the United States.
Beijing lodged complaints over a statement released at the summit in which the three allies criticised China’s “aggressive behaviour” in the South China Sea.
China also claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory, vowing to seize it one day, and officials in Washington — Taipei’s most important ally — have cited 2027 as a possible timeline for an invasion.
In April, South Korea’s Yoon said tensions over Taiwan were due to “attempts to change the status quo by force”.
The comment resulted in a diplomatic tit-for-tat, with Beijing lodging a protest that Seoul condemned as a “serious diplomatic discourtesy.” AFP