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Korea, Japan, China meet over regional cooperation

Officials from South Korea, Japan and China have met in Seoul to discuss setting up a permanent secretariat for closer trilateral cooperation, officials here said Monday.

President Lee Myung-bak, then Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had agreed during their summit in May to establish the cooperation secretariat in Korea next year to boost the three-way partnership over the next decade.

Officials from the three nations are holding a two-day meeting through Tuesday to discuss details, as the three leaders are likely to meet again on the sidelines of the ASEAN Plus Three Summit next month, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said.

The functions of the secretariat are to include administrative and technical support of the three-way summits and meetings of foreign ministers, developing and assessing new cooperation projects as well as research on major issues of trilateral collaboration.

“The trilateral cooperation secretariat is expected to contribute to decreasing tensions and conflicts among the three states,” a Foreign Ministry official here said.

Geographically close, Korea, China and Japan are diplomatically and financially dependent on one another, but are also linked in numerous territorial and historical conflicts.

The latest spat is between China and Japan over the sovereignty of the islands located in the East China Sea, dubbed the Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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