Abe Says Preparing for Seoul Summit With China, South Korea

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan was preparing for a trilateral summit with China and South Korea, in a sign territorial tensions between the three Asian neighbors may be cooling after a change of leadership.

Japan has not held a top-level meeting with China since May last year, after a row over disputed islands in the East China Sea erupted into riots in China that damaged Japanese businesses. Japanese and Chinese ships have been tailing one another around the uninhabited islands, called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, for months.

Abe is set to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who was appointed today, and new South Korean President Park Geun Hye in Seoul, he said in an interview on NHK public television, without specifying a date. Japan is engaged in a dispute over a separate group of islets with South Korea.

“It is set to be held in Seoul,” Abe said of the summit. “If a meeting between these three countries can be held, it will be very positive for diplomacy and for regional security,” he added.

A report in the Nikkei newspaper today said the talks may be held on May 25-26.

Abe, who took office on Dec. 26 after a landslide election victory, said Japan would strengthen ties with its ally the U.S., including by cooperating on sanctions against North Korea.

“If it continues on its current course, North Korea is on the path to extinction,” Abe said in the televised interview. “Secretary Kim should make the wise decision to change policies and put North Korea on the path to prosperity.”

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