China, Japan and South Korea will ramp up talks on a free-trade agreement at their upcoming trilateral summit, their first in three years.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye will host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at a meeting in Seoul, probably on Sunday, Bloomberg reports.
The meeting had been held annually until 2012 when the process broke down amid territorial disputes and lingering animosity over Japan’s role in World War II.
“The goal of the three-party meeting is to boost communications between the three nations and to maintain stability in the region,” Deputy Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told a briefing in Beijing.
The Asian neighbors are facing a growing threat from North Korea’s expanding military muscle and seeking ways to boost trade and bolster their economies.
Any improvement in Japanese-South Korean ties would be welcomed by the US, whose efforts to balance China’s growing assertiveness in the region and deter North Korea have been hampered by disagreements between its two main East Asian allies.
A stalled three-way trade deal would be on the agenda for the talks, Liu said.
Those talks are taking on new importance after the completion of the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement this month linking a dozen countries that account for 40 percent of global economic output.
“We hope to accelerate” the free-trade talks, Liu said.
“We have full confidence in the cooperation with Japan and Korea and East Asia at large. We will have to learn the successful experiences of the EU and North America.”
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