China calls for advancing free trade talks with South Korea, Japan

From L-R: South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pose for a family photo before the 20th ASEAN Plus Three Summit in Manila, Philippines, November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Bullit Marquez/Pool

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called on Tuesday for advancing free trade agreement talks between China, Japan and South Korea, state news agency Xinhua reported.

It provided no details but China has been seeking to get relations with Japan and South Korea back on track after disputes over how to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, and, in Japan’s case, over the two countries’ sensitive wartime history.

“China stands ready to work with relevant parties to speed up negotiations of the China-Japan-South Korea FTA,” Li told a regional summit in Manila, Xinhua said.

The three countries began free trade agreement talks in November 2012, with the latest round of talks being held in Tokyo in April, the report added.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard: Editing by Nick Macfie