CHINA / National

China, Japan fail to resolve row
Updated: 2006-05-24 11:12

Foreign ministers from China and Japan met Wednesday for their first bilateral talks in a year, but reports said the meeting failed to resolve a row over the Japanese prime minister's visits to a war shrine.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (L) and his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso meet in Doha, Qatar, on the sideline of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue Ministerial Meeting May 23, 2006. [Xinhua]

However, Kyodo News agency said the ministers agreed to speed up negotiations on their countries' dispute over undersea gas reservers in East China Sea, another major irritant in relations between the two Asian heavyweights.

Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Aso and his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing, met early Wednesday on the sidelines of an international economic conference in Doha, Qatar, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official confirmed.

He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry had said prior to the talks that the two ministers would discuss their diplomatic dispute over Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a Tokyo war shrine that Asian neighbors say glorifies Japan's militarist past.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing attends a meeting with Qatar's First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Al-Thani during the Asia Cooperation Dialogue Ministerial Meeting in Doha, Qatar May 23, 2006. [Reuters]
Still far apart

Li renewed China's demands that Koizumi stop visiting the Yasukuni shrine as a condition for better relations, saying the visits "damaged the foundation of political ties," but the two sides remained far apart on the issue, Kyodo said.

Aso asked for Beijing's understanding over the matter and proposed an early resumption of summit talks, Kyodo said.

The two ministers agreed to speed up negotiations on the development of the disputed, undersea gas reserves lying between the two countries in the East China Sea, Kyodo said. China claims it has rights to the reserves, while Japan says the two countries should share them.

Repeated meetings between the countries have failed to resolve the gas dispute.

The two ministers also agreed to resume bilateral security talks by the end of the year, and promote exchanges in economy, culture and other areas, Kyodo said.

In another move to smooth Japan's relations with its Asian neighbors, Aso also met with South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday and agreed to hold talks next month to redraw the maritime border around a group of islets claimed by the two countries.


Related Stories