SEOUL (AFP) – The leaders of South Korea, China and Japan gathered for their first summit in more than three years Sunday, marking a victory for political, and particularly economic pragmatism over historical antipathy and territorial rivalry.
The triumph of realpolitik will be capped Monday by a first ever one-on-one summit between South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo after an extended diplomatic freeze.
The trilateral gathering in Seoul resumes what was originally an annual process until tensions between Northeast Asia’s three largest economies in 2012 triggered a lengthy hiatus.
”China hopes the meeting will be an opportunity for the three countries to review the past and find a way out of their difficulties,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said last week.
The focus is very much on economic cooperation, with China especially keen to boost trade links as it seeks to inject some fresh momentum into its slowing economy.