The Korea Herald


Trilateral talks to be held as scheduled

By 신혜인

Published : March 14, 2011 - 18:17

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S. Korea, Japan, China foreign ministers to meet in Kyoto this weekend

Foreign ministers of South Korea, Japan and China will meet as scheduled this weekend, Seoul said Monday, as Japan notified it will host the talks despite the earthquake and tsunami that are believed to have killed tens of thousands of people.

The Tokyo government notified the governments of Seoul and Beijing that it will go ahead with the plan to host the trilateral meeting in Kyoto, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

The three governments are “currently discussing details of the meeting,” according to a ministry official.

While the three foreign ministers ― Kim Sung-hwan of South Korea, Takeaki Matsumoto of Japan and Yang Jiechi of China ― were to meet for two days through March 20, their meeting is expected to be reduced by one day, due to the circumstances, according to the official.

Foreign ministers of the three neighboring states, who are also members of the multinational talks on North Korea’s denuclearization, have met annually to discuss regional issues since 2007.

Among the usual topics of the meeting, such as Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and the stalled six-nation talks, the three states will likely discuss cooperative measures to help Tokyo overcome the powerful earthquake that hit its northeastern region Friday.

The 9.0-magnitude quake prompted Japan to issue a tsunami warning for its entire Pacific coast and is anticipated to have killed as many as 40,000 people, according to Japanese media.

This week’s talks will also be the first official meeting by Tokyo’s new Foreign Minister Matsumoto with his main Asian counterparts. Matsumoto was named the new top diplomat last week after his predecessor resigned for accepting illegal political donations.

During a press conference accepting the post last week, Matsumoto echoed his predecessor’s position not to consider direct talks with Pyongyang until inter-Korean issues are solved, but repeated his government’s claim over Dokdo, sparking concerns.

Japan plans to review school text books in March or early April, a sensitive issue due to parts that lay claim to Seoul’s easternmost islets and glorify the country’s wartime past.

The islets have long been a source of tension between the two neighboring states. South Korea currently has permanent residents and guards on the island.

By Shin Hae-in (