Japan, China, SKorea foreign ministers meet

AFP , Saturday 19 Mar 2011

Foreign ministers of Japan, China and South Korea meet in an effort to bolster cooperation on nuclear safety in light of Japan's ongoing crisis

Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto (C) accompanied by his counterparts, Yang Jiechi (C) of China, and Kim Sung-hwan of South Krea, speaks during their joint press conference following a hurriedly held trilateral meeting in Kyoto, western Japan, Saturday, 19 March 2011, over March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan and the tsunami-crippled nuclear plant. (AP/Kyodo News)

The foreign ministers of Japan, China and South Korea on Saturday agreed to boost cooperation on nuclear power safety and disaster preparedness, one week after Japan's devastating quake and tsunami.

New Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto briefed his Chinese and South Korean counterparts Yang Jiechi and Kim Sung-Hwan on how Tokyo is handling the aftermath of the disaster, which has left 18,000 dead or missing.

The trio also voiced concern over North Korea's uranium enrichment programme and started to lay the groundwork for a three-way leaders' summit to be held in Japan, possibly in late May, according to Kyodo News.

China had earlier this week urged Japan to release "timely and precise" information on the unfolding crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, where workers are battling to avert a disastrous radiation release.

Ahead of the wider talks, Matsumoto thanked both Kim and Yang, after South Korea and China dispatched rescue teams to the disaster zone.

"We Japanese feel South Koreans are our true neighbours who offer help when we're in need. I extend my heartfelt appreciation as a representative of Japan," Matsumoto was quoted by Kyodo News as telling Kim in separate talks. "We've been making all-out efforts to support those affected by the quake and are resolved to overcome this major disaster."

In his meeting with Yang, Matsumoto, who was named to his post just two days before the 9.0-magnitude quake, said he hoped Tokyo and Beijing could move forward after a bitter row last September sparked by maritime collisions.

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