CHINA / National

China, Japan FMs to meet after a year
By Le Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-24 06:32

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will meet his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso on the sidelines of the ongoing Asia Co-operation Dialogue in Qatar, it was announced Tuesday.

It will be the first meeting between the foreign ministers in a year and the first since Aso was appointed in October last year.

Beijing has refused any high-level contact with Tokyo after Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi began paying homage at Yasukuni shrine a symbol of Japan's past militarism since taking office in 2001.

In the past two weeks, the two sides have held consultations on the meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.

"The Yasukuni visits by Japanese leaders are the crux of the problem in Sino-Japanese relations, so definitely this issue will be discussed," Liu said.

China has made a lot of effort to improve bilateral ties and "we hope the Japanese side can reciprocate by making the meeting conducive to the improvement of bilateral relations," Liu said.

Japan experts are cautious about the outcome of the meeting.

"It depends on whether Japan will take concrete steps to improve relations," said Wang Yusheng, an expert on international relations in Beijing.

"I expect some progress, because I believe it is meaningless if the meeting takes place just for the sake of formality." So, Japan needs to take demonstrable action to prove its sincerity, he added.

At yesterday's news briefing, Liu also disclosed that US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will visit China today to exchange views on the Six-Party Talks.

Hill, also the US chief negotiator for the Six-Party Talks on the Korean nuclear issue, will meet Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei.

"At present, the Six-Party Talks faces difficulties, even severe problems," Liu said.

He called on all parties concerned to adopt a flexible and pragmatic attitude to try and achieve progress in the talks.