Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing agree on the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” – 05/27/2024 at 12:35

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From L to R, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang at a joint press conference following a summit in Seoul, May 27, 2024 (POOL/KIM HONG-JI)

Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing on Monday reaffirmed their commitment to “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and peace, during their first tripartite summit in nearly five years, promising to strengthen their economic cooperation and encourage conclusion of a trilateral free trade agreement.

The mention of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula during the summit in Seoul constitutes a “serious political provocation” which “would violate the constitutional position” of North Korea “as a nuclear weapon state”, denounced a spokesperson for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs cited by the official KCNA agency.

The issue was not officially on the agenda for talks between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. But the launch of a satellite announced as imminent by North Korea, a country with nuclear weapons, brought the North Korean question into the summit with a bang.

Before the meeting, Pyongyang had informed the Japanese coast guard of the opening for eight days, during the night of Sunday to Monday, of a window for launching a spy satellite, a launch which would violate sanctions taken at the UN at against North Korea.

According to Seoul, the North benefits from Moscow’s space aid in exchange for arms deliveries to Russian troops in Ukraine

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In November, Pyongyang successfully placed a spy satellite into orbit for the first time.

MM. Yoon and Kishida urged Pyongyang to call off the launch, which Yoon said would harm “regional and global peace and stability” and should provoke a “decisive” response from the international community if carried out.

– Silence from China –

Mr. Li did not raise the subject during the press conference. China is a key trading partner and strong diplomatic ally of North Korea.

“We reiterate our positions on peace and stability in the region, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the leaders wrote in a joint statement, affirming their desire to “continue positive efforts for a political settlement” of the issue.

“The denuclearization of North Korea and stability on the Korean Peninsula are in the common interests of the three countries,” declared Fumio Kishida, when the Chinese Prime Minister asked “the parties concerned to exercise restraint and to prevent the situation from becoming further complicated,” according to the state agency New China.

China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has condemned Pyongyang’s nuclear tests and supported sanctions aimed at curbing its weapons development.

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Trilateral summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, May 27, 2024 in Seoul (POOL / JEON HEON-KYUN)

However, she accused the joint military maneuvers between the United States and South Korea of ​​being at the origin of the escalation of tensions in the region.

The press briefing and the joint statement “clearly showed the difference of opinions” between the three countries, Lee Dong-gyu, a researcher at the Asan Institute in Seoul, explained to AFP, pointing out “differences in positions diplomatic and security aspects of each country.

However, the fact that Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing are seeking to strengthen trilateral cooperation and boost economic ties is a good sign for future agreements, particularly on more sensitive issues such as North Korea’s nuclear weapons, he said.

– Strengthening cooperation –

For this first three-way summit in nearly five years, Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing agreed to strengthen their trilateral cooperation by regularly organizing summits of this type.

On the economic side, the three capitals will encourage the conclusion of a tripartite free trade agreement and strive to “accelerate the negotiations”, they declared in a joint press release.

Yoon also said the three states had “decided to create a transparent and predictable environment for trade and investment, and establish a secure supply chain.”

type="image/webp">From L to R, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang at a joint press conference in Seoul following a summit, May 27, 2024 (POOL/KIM HONG-JI)
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From L to R, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang at a joint press conference in Seoul following a summit, May 27, 2024 (POOL/KIM HONG-JI)

At the summit, Li called on Tokyo and Seoul “not to turn economic and trade issues into political games or security issues, and to reject protectionism and the decoupling or disruption of supply chains.” reported Chine Nouvelle.

After their discussions, the three leaders joined business leaders in attending an economic summit aimed at strengthening trade between the three countries.

Yoon Suk Yeol, president of South Korea since 2022, seeks to improve his country’s relations with Japan, a former colonial power, in the face of growing threats from Pyongyang. Tokyo and Seoul are key allies of the United States in Asia.

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