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South Korea , Japan, China in discussion finalizing dateSouth Korea

South Korea, Japan, and China are in discussions to finalize a date for a long-awaited trilateral summit in Seoul, which has been on hold since 2019, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Friday.

“The three countries — South Korea, Japan, and China — have agreed to convene a summit at the earliest convenient time, and we have been in discussions with Japan and China to facilitate this,” a Foreign Ministry official, who requested to remain anonymous, said.

“We are currently discussing a date for the summit in Seoul, and the specific date will be announced as soon as it is determined.”

The Foreign Ministry’s statement was released in response to a report by Japan’s Kyodo News Agency on Thursday, which revealed South Korea is “planning to hold a trilateral summit with Japan and China in May.”

However, notably, the Foreign Ministry did not deny the news report.

The trilateral summit between South Korea, China, and Japan is likely to be held at the end of May, with the three countries having reached a certain level of agreement on the timing of the event.

The three countries have been in consultation regarding the scheduling of the summit, with May being considered as one of the options, a diplomatic source told The Korea Herald on condition of anonymity.

The source further elaborated that South Korea’s Foreign Ministry aimed to hold the trilateral summit within the first half of this year.

However, setting the date for the three-way summit involves numerous variables, including domestic events within each of the three countries and international occurrences, the source added.

South Korea holds legislative elections on April 10 to select 300 members of the National Assembly, for instance.

In addition, there are other events to consider, such as the inauguration of Taiwanese president-elect Lai Ching-te scheduled for May 20, the bilateral summit between US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida set for April 10 in Washington, and the first-ever Korea-Africa summit planned from June 4 to 5.

Should the summit take place, Kishida and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will visit Seoul.

The three countries also had previously encountered challenges in reaching a consensus on the timeframe of the summit. However, consultations among Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing have reportedly accelerated in recent times toward the objective.

In November, the top diplomats of South Korea, Japan and China convened in Busan to delineate the timeframe and agenda topics for the summit. However, the meeting concluded without reaching a specific agreement.

The trilateral agreement to conduct an annual summit was established in 2008 with the aim of fostering regional cooperation. Since its inception, trilateral summits of South Korea, Japan and China have been convened eight times, with the most recent meeting held in Chengdu, China in December 2019.

The ninth summit is slated to be hosted by South Korea. The rotation sequence for hosting has adhered to the order of Japan, China and then Korea.

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