The leaders of China, Japan and South Korea will meet in Beijing on October 10, the foreign ministry said here Thursday, for a summit likely to include discussions on North Korea’s nuclear programme.
The full joint meeting of the three countries is only the second ever, bar other shorter three-way talks on the sidelines of international summits.
Japan’s new prime minister Yukio Hatoyama said last week — before the date and venue were confirmed — that he would attend talks with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.
It will be Hatoyama’s first visit to China since becoming prime minister just over a week ago.
The foreign ministers of the three countries are due to meet in Shanghai on Monday to prepare for the leaders’ summit and discuss regional and international issues, foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.
“We hope the meeting… will further promote trilateral cooperation, trilateral relations and East Asian cooperation,” she said of the ministers’ meeting.
South Korea’s foreign ministry said topics discussed at next week’s talks would include the North Korea nuclear issue, as well as the idea of a European Union-style East Asian community proposed by Hatoyama.
Seoul’s push to host the next Group of 20 (G20) financial summit would also be addressed, the ministry said.
It was not clear exactly what would be on the table at the October 10 summit, but the North Korean nuclear issue is a key concern to the three nations.
Pyongyang quit six-nation talks aimed at ending its nuclear programme — which bring together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States — in April after the United Nations censured its long-range rocket test.
It was further angered when the United Nations imposed tougher sanctions after a nuclear test in May.
But last week North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il told China’s visiting envoy that he was willing to engage in bilateral and multilateral talks on the nuclear issue.
Hatoyama made his global debut as Japan’s premier this week at the United Nations in New York, where he met Chinese President Hu Jintao and separately South Korea’s Lee.
The Japanese premier asked Hu to work with him for an East Asian community, possibly under a single currency, and pledged “unshakeable relations” with South Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear drive in his talks with Lee.
Hatoyama and Lee agreed they “will never tolerate North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development, which is a threat to peace and stability of not only East Asia but the world.”
Hu meanwhile told Lee in a separate meeting that China wanted to strengthen communication with South Korea and Japan through the October 10 summit, state television CCTV reported.
“China is willing… to improve the overall level of cooperation with South Korea and Japan,” Hu was quoted saying.
The meeting in Shanghai next week will also see Chinese Foreign minister Yang Jiechi meet his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in separate, bilateral talks, spokeswoman Jiang said.
Leaders of the three nations held their first trilateral summit in December last year in Japan, when Taro Aso was the Japanese premier.