SEOUL, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Officials and experts from China, Japan and South Korea on Tuesday called for further boosting trilateral cooperation despite current disputes among the three neighbors at an international forum aiming at achieving mutual trust and development.
The Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS) among China, Japan and South Korea, the first inter-government organization among the three nations to boost ties, held the International Forum for the Trilateral Cooperation (IFTC) 2014 with the title of "The Unity in Diversity - Fostering East Asian Identity & Spirit of Community" in Seoul.
"We do have differences in culture, way of thinking and customs and habits in our daily life," said Iwatani Shigeo, secretary- general of the TCS, "We should just acknowledge these difficulties or diversity, face them squarely and try to understand why they are such differences."
Ju Chul-ki, South Korea's senior presidential foreign affairs secretary urged northeast Asian countries to strengthen cooperation especially on dealing with the nuclear weapon issues of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which he thought was the greatest obstacle for the peace and development of the region.
"The more difficulties and complicated situation the three countries are facing, the more they should seize the opportunity of commemorating the 15th anniversary to well grasp the general direction of mutually beneficial cooperation from the strategic height and long-term perspective," Zhao Jinjun, president of China Foreign affairs university said during the keynote speech.
In 1999, top officials from China, Japan and South Korea officially launched the trilateral cooperation among the three countries and decided to hold regular trilateral summit.
But the annual trilateral summit has not been held since 2012 as the trilateral relations have undergone difficulties due to historical issues and territorial disputes recently.
Zhao suggested that China, Japan and South Korea expand cooperation on some "soft issues", including accelerating the economic cooperation, especially the FTA negotiation, promoting cooperation on energy and environmental protection, and expanding social and people-to-people cooperation and exchanges, so as to facilitate governmental cooperation among three countries.
The population of the three countries accounts for approximately 25 percent of the world's population, and the trade volumes combined account for nearly 20 percent of the world's total. The gross GDP of the region is ranked No.3, following the North American Free Trade Area and the European Union.