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Environmental ministers of S. Korea, China, Japan to hold talks

Environmental ministers of South Korea, China and Japan will hold three-way talks later this week to tackle yellow dust, smog and maritime pollution, a South Korean diplomat said Monday.

South Korean Environment Minister Yoon Seong-kyu and his Chinese and Japanese counterparts, Chen Jining and Yoshio Mochizuki, will meet in the Chinese hub of Shanghai on Thursday.

Also, on Wednesday, the ministers will hold one-on-one meetings, the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to media.

Despite mutual tensions over shared history, South Korea, China and Japan have held the annual meeting of their environmental ministers since 1999.

China did not send its environmental minister to the three-way talks in 2013 and 2014, when bilateral relations with Japan further deteriorated amid a simmering row over the sovereignty of islands in the East China Sea.

In a sign of easing mutual diplomatic tensions, the foreign ministers of the three nations held their first trilateral talks in three years in March.

After three decades of rapid industrialization, China regularly sees hazardous air pollution with levels of particulate matter rising to nearly 40 times the limits set by the World Health Organization during the winter months.

The levels of air pollution in South Korea have also been jumping during the winter months, as westerly winds carry the smog from China to the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)