Leaders from China, Japan and South Korea will discuss resuming the six-party talks at a trilateral meeting in the Philippines next week, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday
Premier Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun will meet on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, at which the leaders of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet leaders of China, Japan, South Korea, India, New Zealand and Australia in Cebu from December 11 to 13, Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai told a news briefing.
North Korea agreed late last month to return to the six-nation talks, but no date has been set.
"China believes the sooner the talks are resumed, the better," Cui said, adding that an early restart of the talks depends on the concerted efforts of all parties. Cui described the stalled talks as "a derailed train" that "must return to the right track and continue to go ahead."
No such trilateral meeting took place during the first East Asia Summit last year in Kuala Lumpur, due to the standoff that Beijing and Seoul had with Tokyo over then-Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of the country's past militarism.
However, relations between Beijing and Tokyo improved after Abe took office in September and visited China the next month.
China and Japan should seize the opportunity and work jointly to improve relations, Cui said, adding that Beijing was "making active efforts" for a bilateral meeting between Abe and Wen.
During the summit between ASEAN and the six other nations on December 13, discussions will focus on energy security, officials said.
The leaders will discuss calls, promulgated by Manila, to require that regional diesel and petrol used contain a 20 percent biofuel component by 2015, according to a senior Philippine energy official.
"Now, everybody is concerned about energy issues," Cui said. "I'm confident that in energy security, the 16 participating countries have a lot of room for cooperation."
He also said China would discuss East Asian cooperation at the ASEAN + Three (China, Japan and South Korea) meeting, and exchange views on how to build up an East Asian community through the "10 plus 3" mechanism.
Following the summit, Wen is expected to pay an official visit to the Philippines. A series of agreements on trade, infrastructure and cultural-relic protection will be signed, said Cui.
Turning to East Asian cooperation, Cui said that common needs are driven by geo-political reality within the region and that cooperation is in the interest of all.
Cui said China respected ASEAN for playing a leading role in the East Asian cooperation process and hoped this role would continue.
Cui noted the US is a very important country, as well as a crucial partner for East Asian countries, harboring close relationships with them and has its own reasonable concerns and interests in this region, a fact of which China is very much aware.
Cui stressed that East Asian cooperation is open and that other countries outside the region are welcomed to strengthen cooperation and exchange with countries inside. Relevant parties including the US should see clear that the East Asian cooperation has made substantive progress in recent years, Cui added.
The meetings in Philippines will include the 10th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) plus Three (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) summit, the 10th China-ASEAN summit, an East Asian regional summit and the 7th annual meeting of leaders of China, Japan and South Korea.
(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency December 7, 2006)