China, Japan and South Korea highlight unity amid North Korea moves

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The foreign minister of North Korea's chief ally China will visit Pyongyang this week following the historic summit between the leaders of the two Koreas.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Mr Moon on April 27 and Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week, in a surprise visit to the Chinese coastal city of Dalian. South Korean officials said Kim told Moon that he would be willing to give up his nuclear weapons if the US commits to a formal end to the Korean War and a pledge not to attack the North.

Commenting on Wednesday's meeting between Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Li Kai of Shanxi Finance University told Sputnik about a proposed free trade zone between the three countries. His moves have raised fears of a trade war between the United States and China.

"The volume of trade in the China-Japan-South Korea zone is 23 percent of the global trade turnover, while in the European Union and NAFTA the figure stands at 21 percent and 27 percent, respectively. It's also a big opportunity to promote development of economic and trade ties".

The leaders also agreed to hold trilateral summits on a regular basis and set up a secretariat.

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The summit hopes to improve the sometimes-frayed ties among the three north-east Asian neighbours.

Shanxi Finance University expert Li Kai pointed out that in terms of economic scale, the proposed China-Japan-South Korea free trade zone can be compared to such major economic integration zones as the European Union or the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

For one, it would be extremely hard for Abe to hold a summit with North Korea in the absence of any progress in resolving the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea decades ago.

The South Korean minister said that the South Korean government is looking forward to a forward-looking relationship with Japan. After that, Mr Abe will host a dinner and lunch for Mr Li and join him on the northern island of Hokkaido on the final day of his four-day Japan visit.