Wen expresses concern about rising tensions
President Lee Myung-bak, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, left, and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao stroll after attending a “2020 Time Capsule” event at the Sculpture Park on Jeju Island Sunday. The Time Capsule contains letters written by 2,020 10th grade students from South Korea, Japan and China in a symbol of close cooperation for the next 10 years.
/ Korea Times
By Na Jeong-ju
JEJU ISLAND ― President Lee Myung-bak agreed with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Sunday, to work closely together to prevent the deadly sinking of a South Korean Navy vessel on March 26 from damaging their efforts to ensure regional peace and prosperity.
The ship sinking, which South Korea claims was the result of a North Korean torpedo attack in South Korean waters, was the main topic at their two-day trilateral summit, which ended Sunday.
During a joint press conference, Hatoyama and Wen offered their deep condolences to the families of 46 deceased sailors and vowed to cooperate with the international community to deal with the aftermath.
President Lee said South Korea will take appropriate steps to address the naval tragedy in close partnership with China and Japan. However, he stopped short of blaming North Korea.
"We will work together to properly deal with the case based on the common understanding that it is closely related to peace and stability in Northeast Asia," the leaders said in a joint statement.
The statement neither mentioned North Korea, nor included any joint action plans on how to handle the communist country.
The three-way summit came as Seoul and Washington are stepping up global diplomacy to take Pyongyang to the U.N. Security Council over the torpedo attack, which it flatly denies having anything to do with.
The Chinese Premier expressed concerns about escalating tensions between the two Koreas.
"The most urgent thing for us to do is to address security risks on the Korean Peninsula, which have been growing since the naval incident occurred," Wen told reporters. "In particular, we have to focus on preventing possible armed clashes between the two Koreas."
He flew to Tokyo later on Sunday for a bilateral summit with Prime Minister Hatoyama.
The trilateral talks also focused on ways to strengthen regional economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, Seoul's preparations for the G-20 Summit slated for November and North Korea's nuclear threats.
Hatoyama called for closer cooperation among Asian countries to prevent the spread of nuclear arms. China, a nuclear state, shared its commitment to peaceful use of nuclear energy and joining in global anti-proliferation efforts with South Korea and Japan, according to the joint statement.
During closed-door discussions with the leaders of China and Japan, Lee urged them to back Korea's bid to seek a joint international response to the North's torpedo attack, said Lee Dong-kwan, senior presidential secretary for public relations.
"The President called for the need to take stern countermeasures so that the world can prevent such a tragedy from happening again on the peninsula," the secretary said. "Through the talks, China could understand our position much better."
The leaders adopted the "Trilateral Cooperative Vision 2020," which sets out a blueprint and vision for the future direction of cooperation among the three nations.
They decided to set up a secretariat in Seoul next year with a view to making their cooperation more effective and systematic.