Japan, China working on bilateral meeting at G-8 summit

Updated: 2007-05-24 20:08

TOKYO _ The leaders of Japan and China are making arrangements to meet on the sidelines of an upcoming summit of industrialized nations in Germany, a government official said Thursday.

A meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Hu Jintao during the June 6-8 Group of Eight summit would mark a deepening of the rapprochement between the Asian rivals begun last year.

"We are currently making arrangements for talks, but nothing has been set at this point," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told reporters.

The comments followed a Kyodo News agency report that a meeting had been arranged, and that the two leaders would likely discuss North Korea's nuclear program and a dispute over undersea oil and gas deposits in the East China Sea.

A duty officer with the Chinese Foreign Ministry quoted ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu as saying that China was still considering specific meeting arrangements for the summit and would announce details once they had been made.

Abe traveled to China in October, immediately after taking office, to meet with Hu in a bid to reverse a steep deterioration in ties during the five-year term of Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi.

Abe met with Hu again at an Asia-Pacific summit in Vietnam in November.

Relations between the two Asian countries have been frayed by disputes over exploitation of underwater gas and oil deposits, territory, and interpretation of history.

At the same time, business is booming between the two countries, as China's rapidly growing economy seeks investment and technology from Japan.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Tokyo in April on a fence-mending visit, and he and Abe vowed to work together on North Korea, energy development and the environment, while defusing their disputes.

Abe at the time said he hoped to visit China again this year, and invited Hu to come to Japan in 2008, Japanese officials said.

The two governments are slated to hold an eighth round of talks over the East China Sea dispute on Friday in Beijing. Experts from the two countries are also meeting in Tokyo next Monday for separate bilateral talks on disarmament and nonproliferation, the Japanese Foreign Ministry announced later Thursday.

"China stands ready to work with Japan to press ahead" with consultations to find a plan for joint development acceptable to both, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular news briefing Thursday.

The Group of Eight members are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States

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