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.
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.
Still far apart
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.
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
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
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
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.