FUKUOKA, Japan (AFP) - The leaders of China, Japan and South Korea pledged Saturday to drum up funding to spare Asia the worst of the global financial crisis, vowing the region would help revive the global economy. Holding an inaugural joint summit that would have been unthinkable a few years ago due to rocky ties, the East Asian powers also called for renewed efforts to end North Korea's nuclear drive after marathon talks collapsed. Casting aside a string of dreary economic news from the three countries, the leaders said that Asia is "expected to play a role as the centre of world economic growth in order to reverse the downward trend of the world economy." Prime Minister Taro Aso, hosting the summit in his home region in southwestern Japan, agreed with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak to "strengthen cooperation" to combat the crisis, a statement said. The three leaders " whose nations make up three-quarters of Asian gross domestic product " called for an urgent capital infusion into the Asian Development Bank. The Manila-based bank has warned that the financial turmoil was quickly eroding its ability to fund projects in the region's poorer countries. The leaders also called for quick action on setting up a regional fund to avert financial turmoil. It would supercede the Chiang Mai Initiative, a system of bilateral currency swaps set up after the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. The three Asian powers along with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had in October agreed to create an 80-billion-dollar joint fund by next June to protect the region from further upheaval. But the summit was bigger on symbolism than specifics, with the three leaders hailing an era of smoother relations. China and South Korea for several years until 2006 refused high-level meetings with Japan due to disputes related to Tokyo's wartime aggression in Asia. "It is quite a milestone to hold a stand-alone China-Japan-South Korea summit," Wen said as he opened a one-on-one meeting with Aso. Wen said it was important for the countries to "join hands and overcome difficulty when the current financial crisis is inflicting a great impact and shock on the world." The joint statement said the three nations shared a vision of a "peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future for the region and the international community." But in one sign of lingering tensions, Aso complained to Wen that Chinese ships recently intruded into waters Japan considers its own in the East China Sea. Aso told the Chinese premier the incident was "extremely regrettable," to which Wen responded that the disputed islands in the region were Chinese, according to a Japanese official. The three leaders came together to urge a resumption of diplomacy to end the nuclear programme of neighouring North Korea. The latest round of six-country talks " which involve the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States " collapsed in Beijing on Thursday, leading Washington to halt fuel aid shipments to energy-strapped North Korea until it agrees to a written plan to verify its nuclear disarmament. Japan has championed a hard line on North Korea and refused to offer aid due to a dispute over Pyongyang's past kidnappings of Japanese civilians to train its spies. China and South Korea, however, are major partners of the North. Seek funding to boost ADB FUKUOKA (AFP) - The leaders of Japan, China and South Korea called Saturday at a summit for a capital boost to the Asian Development Bank to help emerging economies cope with the global financial turmoil. The Manila-based ADB, whose top contributors are Japan and the United States, has said in recent months that it urgently needs money to fund projects as the global financial crisis intensifies. "The ADB would play an important role in assisting developing countries in the Asian region affected by the financial turmoil, in particular for infrastructure development and trade finance," the leaders said in a statement. "To this end, they called for an early agreement on (a) capital increase of the ADB," it said.