Towards an Era of Peace and Common Prosperity in Northeast Asia
I. Background : Trilateral cooperation goes back 12 years ago, when the leaders of the three countries had an informal breakfast meeting on the occasion of the ASEAN+3 in November 1999. This was the first meeting among the heads of governments of these three countries in modern times. Considering the historic and geographic proximity, such meeting was certainly long overdue, to say the least. Since then, the three countries have made some significant progress in strengthening their cooperation. For example, rather than meeting on the sidelines of ASEAN+3 summits they have started to hold independent trilateral summit meetings, starting in 2008. In 2009, the President Lee Myung-bak proposed to set up a permanent Secretariat for the implementation of effective and systematic management of trilateral cooperation during the second trilateral summit meeting. On the occasion of the third Trilateral Summit, the agreement on the establishment of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat was adopted and thus, the consensus to set up a permanent secretariat in Seoul was finally reached among the three countries. Upon the agreement signed and ratified by each of the three parties in 2010, the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat was officially launched in Seoul, September 2011.
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