Chinese Premier Li lands in Seoul for trilateral summit with S. Korea, Japan

Chinese Premier Li Qiang waving to media members before getting into a car as Kim Hong-kyun (right) South Korean 1st vice foreign minister, follows behind at the Seoul airport on May 26, 2024. - AP

SEOUL/TOKYO: Chinese Premier Li Qiang has arrived in Seoul on Sunday (May 26) for a trilateral summit with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, their first three-way talks in more than four years.

The neighbours had agreed to hold a summit every year starting in 2008 to boost regional cooperation, but the initiative has been disrupted by bilateral feuds and the Covid-19 pandemic. Their last trilateral summit was in late 2019.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Li will adopt a joint statement on six areas including the economy and trade, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges and health and the ageing population, Seoul officials said.

Yoon is set to hold bilateral talks with Li and Kishida on Sunday, ahead of their three-way gathering on Monday.

Kishida is also expected to meet Li separately on Sunday, during which he will raise a Chinese ban of Japanese seafood imports and Taiwan, NHK reported, citing the Japanese government.

The summit comes as South Korea and Japan have been working to mend ties frayed by historical disputes while deepening a trilateral security partnership with the United States amid intensifying Sino-US rivalry.

China has previously warned that US efforts to further elevate relations with South Korea and Japan could fan regional tension and confrontation.

Seoul and Tokyo have warned against any attempts to forcibly change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, while Beijing on Tuesday criticised a decision by South Korean and Japanese lawmakers to attend Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te's inauguration.

The summit might not bring a major breakthrough on sensitive issues but could make progress in areas of practical cooperation like people-to-people exchanges and consular matters, officials and diplomats said. - Reuters

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