South Korean President Moon Jae-in will hold chain summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe next week in China in hopes to mend ties with neighboring countries and build regional consensus against renewed North Korean provocations.
The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae announced on Thursday that Moon will have a summit with Xi in Beijing on Dec.23. “President Moon and Xi will have in-depth conversations on ways to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation, as well as current situations on the Korean Peninsula,” said deputy spokesperson Han Jung-woo during a press briefing.
On the top of the agenda is North Korea. The North threatened “Christmas gift” if the U.S. does not give concessions on nuclear negotiations by 2020. Moon is expected to persuade Xi to use his leverage to contain the North’s continuous provocations and discuss ways to strengthen Korea-China cooperation at a time when South Korea is in conflict with its long-time ally the U.S. over issues including defense cost sharing and termination of the intelligence-sharing pact with Japan.
Moon is also expected to invite Xi for a state visit to South Korea next year to set the stage to improve the frayed ties of the two countries over Seoul’s installment of a U.S. anti-missile shield on Korea despite strong opposition from Beijing.
Later, Moon will go to Cheongdu to sit down with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. After having the three-way summit scheduled on Dec. 24, he will have a face-to-face conversation with Abe in hopes to break the ice.
Relations between the two neighboring countries have plummeted to their lowest point in decades since Tokyo from July tightened shipments of high tech materials to Korea as what is seen as retaliation against Korean Supreme Court’s order for Japanese companies to compensate victims of wartime forced laborers. They removed each other on the list of friendly allies enjoying preferable trade procedures. Seoul recently has offered reconciliatory gestures by suspending its withdrawal from a military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo and complaint suit against Japan’s export curbs at the World Trade Organization.
By Kim Sung-hoon and Choi Mira
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