The top diplomats of Japan, South Korea and China agreed Sunday to accelerate efforts to arrange a summit of their leaders at an early date in the nations' first in-person foreign ministerial talks in four years in Busan, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said.

Kamikawa also told reporters the three diplomats discussed North Korea's recent spy satellite launch and she asked China, which has significant economic influence over Pyongyang, to play a role in addressing the country's missile program and past abductions of Japanese nationals.

The COVID-19 pandemic and strained bilateral ties over historical and territorial disagreements had kept the three nations from holding talks since the last leaders' summit in December 2019 and a direct foreign ministerial meeting in August of that year, both in China.

(From L) Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin and China's top diplomat Wang Yi pose for photos ahead of talks in Busan, South Korea, on Nov. 26, 2023. (Kyodo)

Kamikawa also said she agreed with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin and China's top diplomat Wang Yi to promote cooperation among the three countries in six areas including public health, security and trade as they work toward the summit.

South Korea, the rotating chair of the trilateral framework, was seeking to host a leaders' summit by the end of this year. But a senior official of the country's presidential office said on a TV program Sunday that it would not be easy to hold the summit by the year-end.

The Japanese minister added she shared the view with her counterparts that promoting future-oriented and practical cooperation among the three Asian neighbors is "important for regional and world peace."

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa speaks at a meeting with her South Korean and Chinese counterparts, Park Jin and Wang Yi, in Busan, South Korea, on Nov. 26, 2023. (Kyodo)

The meeting came days after Pyongyang's satellite launch using banned ballistic missile technology that triggered condemnation from Japan and South Korea. China has stopped short of criticizing the launch.

South Korea's Park said stability in the Korean Peninsula is "a prerequisite for the peace and prosperity" of the region at the outset of the talks. He told reporters the three ministers agreed to continue communication at all levels to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.

China's Wang said Beijing is ready to work with Tokyo and Seoul to put the three-way cooperation back on the correct path and seek its sound and stable development. The ministers made the opening remarks in the presence of reporters.

China's top diplomat Wang Yi speaks at a meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Yoko Kamikawa and Park Jin, in Busan, South Korea, on Nov. 26, 2023. (Kyodo)

Ahead of the three-way ministerial talks, the Global Times, a tabloid affiliated with China's ruling Communist Party, expressed caution in its editorial Saturday over the strengthened security ties between the United States, Japan and South Korea and called on Tokyo and Seoul to demonstrate "more strategic autonomy."

Apparently reflecting Beijing's cautious stance toward the two neighbors, both of which are U.S. security allies, Wang skipped a joint press conference and dinner originally planned for the three ministers, according to diplomatic sources.

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