Defense minister 'to visit Japan'

By Zhu Ping (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-14 06:55

A senior Japanese Embassy said yesterday that Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan will visit Japan this autumn in a sign of improving bilateral relations.

The Chinese government has not confirmed the visit but Minister Keiji Ide told China Daily: "It is a very important step for the development of bilateral relationship. We are looking forward to it very much."

He pointed out defense exchanges were agreed upon during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan in April.

The defense minister's visit would be the first in almost a decade; and is likely be followed by a visit by a Chinese warship to a Japanese port for the first time ever, Ide said.

Japanese Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma is also expected to visit China "at an appropriate time".

A joint statement during Wen's visit said "a communication mechanism between the two defense authorities will be established, and thereby, prevent the occurrence of unforeseen circumstances at sea".

In another development, a 220-member delegation led by former Japanese prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone will visit China from today till June 20.

(China Daily 06/14/2007 page2)

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