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Territorial disputes leave little chance for trilateral ASEAN summit


SEOUL, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) -- The prospect for a trilateral summit between South Korea, China and Japan during an upcoming meeting of Asian leaders appears dim this year due to territorial disputes between Asian neighbors, a government source in Seoul said Sunday.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is scheduled to hold the meeting from Oct. 9-10 in Brunei, bringing together the leaders of its 10 member countries as well as three Northeast Asian nations -- South Korea, China and Japan.

The three nations have annually held trilateral summits on the sidelines of the ASEAN meeting since 1999, except for last year when tensions were high between Beijing and Tokyo due to territorial disputes over a group of islands in the East China Sea.

As there has been little progress in arranging the meeting and agenda, which usually takes about a month, this year's summit is unlikely to take place, according to Seoul officials.

"Considering the current circumstances, the trilateral summit is unlikely to happen unless there is a new momentum," the senior government source said, asking for anonymity.

Separate from the ASEAN gathering, the three Asian neighbors launched the three-nation organization in 2008 in a bid to promote closer cooperation among them, but analysts see slim chance for a trilateral meeting within this year amid a showdown between Asia's two largest economies.

Tensions between Japan and the other two countries are running high over the conservative Japanese government's bids to renew territorial disputes with China and South Korea, and due to its nationalistic comments over Japan's early 20th-century colonial control in the Asian region.

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