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. Japan, China to discuss disputed gas field: official

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 6, 2009
Japan and China will hold talks this week on a row over Beijing's development of a disputed gas field in the East China Sea, officials said Tuesday.

Japan's Vice Foreign Minster Mitoji Yabunaka and Chinese counterpart Wang Guangya will meet Friday in Tokyo to "discuss a range of key issues including the disputes over development of gas fields," said a foreign ministry official in charge of relations with China.

Japan and China, two of the world's biggest energy importers, struck a deal in June last year to end the long-running spat by jointly developing one of the gas fields.

But Japan recently protested that China was unilaterally developing another gas field. China says the field is in its territorial waters but Japan says the two countries agreed to negotiate its status under last year's deal.

"The Japanese side has been pressing and will continue to press China to start actual negotiations on sealing a treaty based on the agreement in June, not to mention asking it to stop unilaterally developing fields under discussion," the Japanese official said.

China on Tuesday rejected Japan's accusation that it was violating the June agreement.

"Our position is unchanged. We hope Japan does not misinterpret the principled consensus of the two countries," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters in Beijing.

Japan and China, Asia's two largest economies, have been working since 2006 to repair relations, which have long been tense due in part to the legacy of Japanese imperialism.

Other topics expected to come up in Friday's meeting include cooperation on global warming and exchanging opinions on US president-elect Barack Obama, officials said.

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