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(2nd LD) Top diplomats of S. Korea, U.S., Japan hold talks at G-7 meeting

16:41 May 05, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS photos; CHANGES dateline)
By Kim Seung-yeon

LONDON/SEOUL, May 5 (Yonhap) -- The top diplomats of South Korea, the United States and Japan held three-way talks on the sidelines of a Group of Seven (G-7) meeting in London on Wednesday (local time), with North Korea's nuclear issues expected to be high on the agenda.

The meeting of Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi marked the first time the top diplomats of the three countries have met in more than a year.

It was also 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 came as the U.S. 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.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (R) attends a trilateral meeting with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Antony Blinken and Toshimitsu Motegi, on the sidelines of a Group of Seven gathering in London on May 5, 2021. (Yonhap)

It also came 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 were expected to discuss coordination on the strategy on 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 U.S. policy review was decided in a realistic and practical direction.

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

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (L) attends a trilateral meeting with his U.S. and South Korean counterparts, Antony Blinken and Chung Eui-yong, on the margins of a Group of Seven gathering in London on May 5, 2021. (Yonhap)

In Wednesday's talks, the three sides were 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, though it has been widely speculated that such a meeting will happen. 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.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C) is seated at a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of the United States, South Korea and Japan on the margins of the Group of Seven foreign and development ministers meeting in London on May 5, 2021. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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