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S. Korea, China, Japan to step up cooperation on Ebola fight

The health ministers of South Korea, China and Japan on Sunday signed a joint statement to strengthen their three-way cooperation to help prevent the deadly Ebola virus from spreading to their nations. 

The joint statement was announced after a meeting of the three ministers -- South Korean Health Minister Moon Hyong-pyo and his Chinese and Japanese counterparts, Li Bin and Yasuhisa Shiozaki -- in Beijing earlier in the day. 

The statement calls for the three nations to enhance exchanges of information on preventing Ebola from entering their borders and precautionary measures people can take against the disease.

More than 5,000 people have died from Ebola since the worst-ever outbreak of the virus nearly a year ago. 

South Korea has been preparing to dispatch an Ebola treatment team to Sierra Leone, where Britain is currently building a large-scale treatment center.

The health ministers of South Korea, China and Japan have held a trilateral meeting every year since 2007, but the joint statement on Ebola came amid persistent diplomatic strains among the three nations. 

Tensions between China and Japan run deep from competing claims over islands in the East China Sea. Relations between Seoul and Tokyo also remain frayed over Japan's unrepentant attitude over its wartime atrocities, including the sexual enslavement of women by the Japanese military during World War II.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, held their first formal summit in Beijing earlier this month on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering. (Yonhap)

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