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(LEAD) S. Korea, Japan, China vow joint efforts to denuclearize N. Korea

All Headlines 11:51 May 09, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from Moon and Abe in paras 11-15)

SEOUL/TOKYO, May 9 (Yonhap) -- The leaders of South Korea, Japan and China reaffirmed their joint efforts to peacefully rid North Korea of its nuclear ambitions in a three-way summit in Tokyo on Wednesday.

President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also issued a special statement, which expresses support for the outcome of Moon's April 27 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that calls for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

"The leaders adopted a special statement on the South-North Korea summit, welcoming the fact (the two Koreas) affirmed the goal of complete denuclearization, expressing hope for the success of the North Korea-U.S. summit and expressing their stance to continue the joint efforts of the three countries so the success of the South-North summit will contribute to the peace and stability in Northeast Asia," Moon's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release.

The inter-Korean summit at the border village of Panmunjom, the third of its kind, came after the North Korean leader told a visiting envoy of the South Korean president that his country may be willing to give up its nuclear development program in exchange for a security guarantee.

U.S. President Donald Trump has also agreed to meet Kim, apparently to personally confirm the North's willingness to denuclearize. The first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit is expected to be held later in the month or early next month.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) speaks at the start of a three-way summit held in Tokyo on May 9, 2018, involving Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. (Yonhap)

Meeting the two Asian leaders for the first time since his summit with Kim, the South Korean president said the North may be serious about denuclearizing.

"President Moon said he has personally confirmed Chairman Kim's goal of realizing complete denuclearizing and a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through the recent South-North Korea summit," Cheong Wa Dae said. Moon arrived in Tokyo earlier in the day, becoming the first South Korean president to do so in more than six years.

"Prime Minister Abe and Premier Li said Japan and China too will constructively contribute to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula while offering their congratulations and welcome of the successful outcome of the South-North Korea summit," it added.

In a joint declaration, dubbed the Panmunjom Declaration, Moon and Kim also called for a formal end to the Korean War.

The divided Koreas technically remain at war as the 1950-53 war ended only with an armistice. The Panmunjom Declaration also calls for efforts to replace the Korean armistice with a peace treaty.

In a joint press conference following their summit, the three leaders welcomed the outcome of the inter-Korean summit.

"I welcome the success of the South-North summit and praise President Moon for his leadership," Abe told the press conference, according to Korean interpretation of his remarks. "I evaluate the fact that complete denuclearization (of the Korean Peninsula) was included in the Panmunjom Declaration."

Moon highlighted the importance of cooperation between the three countries in securing peace and security in their shared region.

"Most of all, we agreed that complete denuclearization, establishment of permanent peace and improvements in South-North Korea relations are very important to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia," he said.

"I expect and I promise that close communication and cooperation between the three countries will continue in the process of establishing permanent peace," the South Korean leader added.

Moon, Xi and Abe also called for increased exchanges and cooperation among the three countries, resuming the countries' three-way summit talks for the first time since late 2015.

Both Seoul and Beijing have reportedly been reluctant to hold the three-way talks over what they have long claimed to be Japanese attempts to whitewash its war atrocities and colonial rule or invasion of its Asian neighbors.

Tokyo also periodically lays territorial claims to a set of South Korean islets in the East Sea, called Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, while it has a running territorial dispute with China over a set of uninhabited islands, called the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyutai Islands in China.

"The leaders agreed to expand the countries' practical cooperation to a level that the people of the three countries can actually feel," Cheong Wa Dae said.

To this end, the countries will jointly work to address the issue of air pollution, including fine dust, it added.

The leaders also agreed to work to increase the number of visitors among their three countries to 30 million by 2020.


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