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3-nation talks to build trust

The resumption of trilateral summits between China, Japan and South Korea could help ease regional tensions and spur growth in their shaky economies. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is set to meet South Korean President Park Geun Hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday in Seoul, according to media reports, although the exact date has not been officially announced.

The trilateral meetings began in 2008 to boost political, economic, social and cultural ties but were discontinued in 2012 amid territorial spats and anger from Beijing and Seoul over Tokyo's lack of remorse for its actions in World War II.

As the Chinese economy falters, growing at just 6.9 per cent in the third quarter, Mr Li is likely looking to make headway on trade and economic issues, aiming for greater cooperation in areas such as nuclear power and high-speed rail.

Talks are also expected on a proposed trilateral free trade pact that could help China offset the potential negative impact from the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, which does not include Beijing. Other issues expected to be discussed include the growing threat from North Korea's nuclear ambitions and efforts to denuclearise the Korean peninsula.

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said in Beijing on Monday that history would inevitably be raised but the countries had key shared economic interests and needed to get ties back on track.

But while ties are warming, state-run newspaper China Daily said that it is too optimistic to expect reconciliation from a single meeting as issues that have chilled ties between Japan and its neighbours remain unresolved. But it is against such a backdrop that platforms for communication such as the leaders' summit are even more important. Many hope the three countries can redouble their efforts to build trust, and ensure peace and stability.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2015, with the headline '3-nation talks to build trust'. Print Edition | Subscribe