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S. Korea, Japan, China set for summit amid N. Korea's imminent satellite launch

By Yonhap

Published : May 27, 2024 - 09:13

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President Yoon Suk Yeol (Center) speaks during a welcome dinner for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (Left) and Chinese Primer Li Qiang at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, in central Seoul, on May 26, on the eve of the ninth trilateral summit meeting among the three nations, in this photo provided by Yoon's office. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol (Center) speaks during a welcome dinner for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (Left) and Chinese Primer Li Qiang at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, in central Seoul, on May 26, on the eve of the ninth trilateral summit meeting among the three nations, in this photo provided by Yoon's office. (Yonhap)

Leaders of South Korea, China and Japan were set to meet in Seoul on Monday for their first trilateral summit in over four years amid rising tension over North Korea's impending spy satellite launch.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese Premier Li Qiang will sit down for a trilateral summit, the ninth such meeting and the first since December 2019, following a hiatus due to COVID-19 and historical disputes among the Asian neighbors.

The leaders are expected to explore cooperation in the economic, trade and health sectors while aiming to avoid friction, as Seoul and Tokyo have aligned more closely with Washington amid its intensifying rivalry with Beijing. China is the largest trading partner of South Korea and Japan.

The trilateral session will discuss ways to promote cooperation in six specific areas -- economy and trade, sustainable development, health issues, science and technology, disaster and safety management, and people-to-people exchanges. The leaders will adopt a joint statement on the outcome of the summit.

The trio will then attend a business forum to discuss ways to expand economic cooperation among the three nations, according to the presidential office.

While security issues like North Korea's nuclear program are not among the official agenda items, they could feature in the discussions among the leaders as Pyongyang has notified Japan of its plan to launch a military satellite before June 4.

Seoul and Japan have condemned the North's launch of a space rocket carrying a satellite as a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions that ban any launch using ballistic missile technology. Pyongyang said it will send three more satellites into space this year following its first launch in November.

Seoul officials said final negotiations are still under way to decide whether and how much they will address the North Korean issue in the joint statement.

"North Korea's launch of a military reconnaissance satellite utilizing (intercontinental ballistic missile) technology is imminent," a senior presidential official said Sunday. "Given the possibility that various other missile provocations could accompany this, the government will maintain firm military readiness during and after the Korea-Japan-China summit." (Yonhap)