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China, Japan meet on long-running East China Sea dispute

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 11, 2007
Chinese and Japanese officials met in Beijing on Thursday for a fresh round of talks on resolving a dispute over rival claims in the energy-rich East China Sea, a government spokesman said.

The Asian rivals, two of the world's largest energy importers, are locked in a long-running disagreement over the boundaries of their territorial waters and have held regular bilateral talks on the issue since 2004.

"As agreed by China and Japan, a 10th round of consultations between the two countries on the East China Sea is being held today in Beijing," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular press briefing.

"China will, based on the consensus reached by the two countries, press ahead with the process with a proactive and pragmatic manner so as to reach a plan acceptable to both," he said, reiterating what China has said in the past.

"We hope Japan can meet us halfway."

Liu did not say how long the talks would last but they typically are one-day affairs.

Hopes for a settlement were raised after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao paid a landmark visit to Japan in April and agreed with his Japanese counterpart, then-premier Shinzo Abe, to find an amicable settlement.

However, a subsequent round of talks in Tokyo in June failed to make progress.

In 2003, China began test-drilling in the area, which is rich in gas deposits, provoking outrage in Tokyo.

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