Amid the rising crisis on the Korean Peninsula with tensions aggravating between the U.S. and North Korea, South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit China on December 23. The South Korean president will have meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. At the first summit between South Korean and Japan since the conditional extension of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), the two leaders will discuss the withdrawal of export controls and a decision on the final extension of the GSOMIA.
President Moon will have a summit with President Xi in Beijing before the trilateral summit meeting while a detailed schedule is being discussed. December 24, the day of the trilateral meeting, will be the first South Korea-Japan summit in 15 months.
It is forecasted that the historical issues, such as Japan’s export controls and resolution of the forced labor issue, will be the key agenda at the summit. The upcoming summit was achieved thanks to the conditional extension of the GSOMIA on November 22. It is yet for the trade ministers of South Korea and Japan to find an agreement at the bilateral negotiations. As there will be a meeting between the trade ministers in Beijing on December 22, however, some expect that rough decisions on the withdrawal of export controls and the final extension of the GSOMIA will be made at the summit. However, the resolution of the forced labor issue seems still far away.
“As the meeting will take place in a short period of time, the export controls and GSOMIA issues may be the main agenda unless the gap between the two countries on the forced labor issue closes,” said a source from the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
The issues surrounding North Korea will be the main topic to be discussed at the South Korea-China and trilateral meetings. It is anticipated that President Xi will explain the messages of U.S. President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and try to convince Pyongyang to delay the year-end deadline for negotiations set by the North. However, Cheong Wa Dae are concerned about potential provocations by North Korea around the trilateral summit, citing “Christmas gift.” A source from Cheong Wa Dae said, “It is hard to predict anything or foresee the future with regards to the U.S.-North Korea situation.”