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S. Korea, China, Japan to hold working-level FTA talks

South Korea, Japan and China will hold a new round of talks on a trilateral free trade agreement in Beijing this week in an effort to iron out their remaining differences, the trade ministry here said Sunday.

The eighth trilateral working-level talks, slated for Monday through Friday, will focus on key issues such as modalities for eliminating tariffs and ways of liberalizing service and investment, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Based on the results of the talks, chief negotiators of the three countries are scheduled to hold their eighth meeting in China around September, the ministry said.

In November 2012, South Korea, Japan and China declared the start of negotiations aimed at striking a comprehensive, high-level free trade deal.

The proposed FTA, if signed, will mark South Korea's first free trade pact with Japan as Seoul and Beijing have already reached a deal on a bilateral FTA.

South Korea and Japan have held six rounds of bilateral FTA negotiations, but the talks have been suspended since November 2004, largely due to Japan's opposition to liberalize its agricultural market.

South Korea is also considering joining a U.S.-led regional FTA, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership that involves Japan and 10 other countries. (Yonhap)