Posted March. 12, 2015 01:09,
Vice foreign ministers of South Korea, China and Japan gathered together in Seoul on Wednesday for the first three-way, high-level diplomats` meeting since September last year. South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Lee Kyung-soo met with his Chinese and Japanese counterparts, Liu Zhenmin and Shinsuke Sugiyama. The meeting was held, in part, to prepare for a trilateral foreign ministers` meeting.
The three senior diplomats agreed to hold a trilateral foreign ministers` meeting in Seoul around March 21. The last three-way foreign ministers` meeting was held in April 2012. The vice foreign ministers also had bilateral talks separately.
Initially, a three-way foreign ministers` meeting was scheduled for late last year, only to be postponed due to Japan`s domestic political issues including the dissolution of the Diet. In Japan, which adopts a parliamentary cabinet system, an incumbent lawmaker takes the foreign minister`s position.
The representatives of the three neighboring countries also reviewed three-way cooperation projects and exchanged views on ways to proceed with future ones. At the September 2014 meeting, the three countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in disaster management, environment, atomic energy safety, cyber security and maritime policies.
The South Korean vice foreign minister conveyed Seoul`s message of condolences on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Diplomatic sources said, however, that he did not bring up any sensitive issues such as past history and territorial disputes in order to maintain the momentum for a three-way foreign ministers` meeting and further a trilateral summit.
South Korea, which played the chair role, wants to hold a trilateral summit, while China is stubbornly opposed to it. A three-way summit has not been held since May 2012 amid long-standing historical grievances among the three neighbors. The three countries have not been able to agree on a timing for the resumption of the summit since the Beijing-Tokyo relations aggravated in September 2012, when Japan nationalized the disputed Senkaku Islands, which is called Diaoyudao in China.