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[Newsmaker] Top diplomats of S. Korea, US, Japan to hold talks at G-7 meeting

May 5, 2021 - 09:54 By Yonhap
This composite photo, made of AFP and Kyodo pictures, shows (from L to R) Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. (AFP-Yonhap)
The top diplomats of South Korea, the United States and Japan were set to hold three-way talks on the sidelines of a Group of Seven (G-7) meeting in London early Wednesday (local time), the foreign ministry said.

The meeting of Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will mark the first time the top diplomats of the three countries meet in more than a year.

It will also be the first direct encounter between Chung and Motegi, who have not spoken to each other since Chung took office in February amid strained bilateral relations.

The trilateral meeting comes as the US wants its two Asian allies to improve their ties badly frayed over the prolonged row over wartime forced labor and sexual slavery issues, and Tokyo's export curbs on Seoul.

It also comes after the Joe Biden administration said last week it had completed its monthslong policy review on North Korea. 

The Biden administration sees the trilateral cooperation as vital in restoring regional alliances in efforts to keep China's growing influence in check and deal with North Korean nuclear threats.

In the talks, Chung, Blinken and Motegi are expected to discuss coordination on the strategy against North Korea, among other shared issues.

Blinken said on Monday that the policy review, which calls for "a calibrated, practical approach," centers on pursuing diplomacy to make progress toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in close coordination with the allies.

After meeting bilaterally with Blinken in London on Monday, Chung welcomed the fact that the result of the US policy review was decided in a realistic and practical direction.

Motegi has also expressed commitment to close trilateral cooperation to that end.

In Wednesday's talks, the three sides are also expected to discuss global issues, including the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, distribution of vaccines and climate change.

Though not party to the G-7, South Korea has been invited as a guest, along with Australia, India, South Africa and Brunei.

It remains uncertain whether Chung and Motegi will meet one-on-one separately. An official at the foreign ministry in Seoul said there was nothing to confirm at this stage.

The Seoul-Tokyo ties remain chilled with no signs of improvement or solution in sight. Japan's recent decision to discharge radioactive water from its wreaked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea has also stirred strong protest from Korea. (Yonhap)