Japan, China defense chiefs to meet next year

Updated: 2006-11-30 07:41

TOKYO - China and Japan on Wednesday agreed to hold talks between their defense chiefs in Tokyo next year, ending a three-year hiatus, a news report said.

Chinese National Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan will visit Japan for talks with Japan's defense chief Fumio Kyuma and other officials sometime next year, Kyodo News agency reported.

The two countries have not held ministerial-level defense talks since 2003 amid strained diplomatic relations under former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, whose repeated visits to a war shrine that honors Japan's war dead angered China.

During a fence-mending trip to Beijing last month, Koizumi's successor Shinzo Abe agreed with Chinese President Hu Jintao to boost mutual trust in the area of security.

Earlier Wednesday, Abe told reporters that Tokyo welcomed discussions with its neighbor.

"We need to build relations of mutual trust in a variety of areas in order to achieve new heights in strategically reciprocal relations. I think having discussions related to security matters in particular is extremely significant," Abe said.

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