South Korea, China and Japan are in talks about holding a meeting of their foreign ministers this month ahead of their possible trilateral summit in China later this year, a Seoul official said Wednesday.
Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Chinese and Japanese counterparts, Wang Yi and Taro Kono, are expected to meet in China on Aug. 21 to discuss joint efforts for North Korea's denuclearization.
The broadcaster also said that talks have been under way to arrange bilateral talks between Kang and Kono, and between Wang and Kono.
"Nothing has been decided yet, but (the countries) are in consultation over the matter," the official told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity, referring to the possibility of a trilateral foreign ministers' meeting. "There is, of course, a possibility for such talks, as the ministers have been meeting in such a format."
An official at the Chinese Embassy in Seoul also said that the three countries are coordinating over the possible foreign ministers' meeting in China.
"(The countries) are coordinating and pushing for a foreign ministers' meeting this month," the official told Yonhap.
Should they meet, the ministers are expected to discuss Pyongyang's recent series of short-range missile launches, including the latest Tuesday, and their impact on the ongoing efforts for the regime's nuclear disarmament.
They are also likely to touch on preparations for their countries' possible trilateral summit. South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Monday that Seoul is trying to set a schedule for the summit where Beijing is supposed to serve as the rotating chair. The last summit was held in Tokyo in May last year.
Should Kang and Kono meet bilaterally on the sidelines of the three-way meeting, the two sides would discuss Tokyo's recent decision to remove South Korea from the "whitelist" of trusted trade partners, which Seoul criticized as being "unilateral and arbitrary."
South Korea has been calling for a diplomatic resolution to the escalating diplomatic and trade row with Japan, arguing that Tokyo's recent export curbs against Seoul are political retaliation for last year's Supreme Court rulings against Japanese firms over wartime forced labor.
Kang and Kono last met on the sidelines of multilateral gatherings, involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in Bangkok last week. (Yonhap)