South Korea, China and Japan will hold a meeting of senior-level diplomats in Seoul next week in the run-up to a meeting of their foreign ministers slated for late March, Seoul's foreign ministry said Thursday.
South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Lee Kyung-soo will meet with his Chinese and Japanese counterparts, Liu Zhenmin and Shinsuke Sugiyama, on Wednesday to discuss how to revive trilateral cooperation, according to the ministry.
The planned meeting, the first since September, is a preparatory step toward holding the upcoming talks of their foreign ministers, tentatively slated for March 21 and 22 in Seoul.
The move to hold a foreign ministers' meeting is aimed at rekindling the momentum for trilateral cooperation at a time when South Korea's and China's bilateral relations with Japan remain strained due to history and territory rows.
Seoul has slammed Japan for refusing to face up to its wartime atrocities such as its sexual enslavement of Korean and other Asian women during World War II.
China and Japan have been sparring over a territorial dispute involving islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
A three-way foreign ministers' meeting has not been held since April 2012 due to such strained relations. A three-way summit has also not been held since May 2012 amid long-standing historical grievances.
During a regional summit in Myanmar in November, South Korean President Park Geun-hye expressed her hope to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a trilateral summit following an envisioned meeting of their foreign ministers in the near future.
Since taking office in early 2013, Park has shunned a bilateral summit with Abe, calling on Japan to first sincerely apologize over the sex slavery issue. (Yonhap)