2010/10/06

S.Korea eyes trilateral with Japan, China to ease tensions

BRUSSELS, October  5, 2010 (AFP) - The leaders of South Korea, China and Japan will likely hold a trilateral summit this month to ease tensions following a Sino-Japanese spat, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak said Tuesday.

A maritime dispute had threatened to hijack a two-day summit of Asian and European leaders in Brussels, but Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao mended fences at a chance post-dinner encounter.

"Right now there is some friction between China and Japan," Lee told a news conference at the end of the summit.

"China, South Korea and Japan are three important countries in northeast Asia and if we enter into conflict this will threaten stability and prosperity in the region," he said.

Lee said he had spoken separately with Wen and Kan during the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) at the royal palace in Brussels.

The Chinese and Japanese leaders both gave "extremely positive responses" to Lee's idea of a trilateral meeting on the margins of a summit of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Hanoi in late October.

"I told each of them that we must work together to ensure peace in the region," the South Korea leader said.

"I am convinced that the leaders of these three countries will be able to meet," Lee said.

Tokyo's arrest on September 8 of a Chinese trawler captain whose ship collided with two Japanese patrol vessels near a disputed island chain in the East China Sea had led Beijing to cut off all high-level contacts until Monday.

During their post-dinner meeting, Wen and Kan stated their country's positions on ownership of the islands -- with each claiming sovereignty --  and "shared the view that the actual situation in the Japanese-Sino relationship is not desirable," said Japanese government spokesman Satoru Sato.

"Both sides confirmed they'll make efforts to normalisation," the spokesman added.