Chinese Foreign Ministry officials say their annual meeting with senior leaders from Japan and South Korea has been postponed indefinitely.

The three nations have met on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit for the past six years, and their next meeting was expected to take place later this month. The next ASEAN summit begins December 12 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

China said the meeting was postponed due to "the current atmosphere and conditions." Comments earlier by a spokesman in Beijing made clear that the delay is due to China's continuing dismay over Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to a controversial war shrine.

The Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo honors Japan's war dead, including those guilty of criminal acts during the World War II. After Mr. Koizumi's last visit in October, he said he goes to the shrine to pray for lasting peace. Critics say the site glorifies the militaristic and nationalistic excesses of Japan's past.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.