The foreign ministers of South Korea, China and Japan vowed to work towards getting their respective countries' leaders together for a trilateral summit - after their first official meeting in nearly three years Saturday.

Earlier in the day, South Korean President Park Geun-hye hosted Wang Yi of China and Japan's Fumio Kishida at her base in Seoul - along with her Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.

Since taking office two years ago, Park has refused to hold bilateral talks with her Japanese counterpart Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - although the pair did meet in the company of U.S. President Barack Obama last year.

The South Korean president's reticence has stemmed from an ongoing complaint that Tokyo - particularly of late under the Abe administration - has failed to fully recognize the abuses of its past colonialism - a gripe shared by Beijing, which like Seoul, also has a territorial dispute with Japan.

But there was hope of a break in tensions as a joint statement released by the respective foreign ministers on Saturday evening made clear that they would push for a presidential trilateral summit "at the earliest convenient time for the three countries."

Other areas of agreement included working towards a trilateral free trade deal, as well as maintaining the long-held goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula - a further message to North Korea considering its widely publicized nuclear weapon development.

As for Japan's view of the past, Prime Minister Abe is due to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II with a statement this August that offers the opportunity to unequivocally demonstrate an apologetic tone for his country's past actions.

Amid speculation that he may shun that chance, it remains to be seen whether Saturday's efforts in Seoul will bear fruit.

Aside from thorny historical matters, complicated regional issues remain - namely South Korea's pending decisions on whether to join up with the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank despite caution from Seoul's ally the U.S., and also whether to push for the deployment of an American missile defense system in South Korea in the face of Chinese opposition.

Anadolu Agency