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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Japan and China make no progress in resolving EEZ

By Isabel Reynolds
BEIJING, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Japan and China failed to make progress in resolving a long-running dispute over natural resources in the East China Sea in talks in Beijing on Saturday, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said.

Komura met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi before leading a delegation of six Japanese ministers in wide-ranging economic talks with their Chinese counterparts later in the day, in an event meant to symbolise warming ties.

"We had deeper discussions than in the past, but I can't say there was any progress, because neither side agreed to the other's ideas," Komura told journalists after three hours of what he described as reasonably good talks with Yang.

Eleven rounds of official-level talks have already failed to yield a compromise on the development of gas fields in the East China Sea.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and then-Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe agreed in April that officials should come up with a concrete plan for joint development by the autumn.
Japan's top government spokesman has said that failure to reach agreement could affect a visit by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda planned for late this year or early next, although China has denied this is the case.

"Both sides agreed to try to resolve the problem before Prime Minister Fukuda's visit to China," a Japanese official said later.

Japan and China disagree about the border between their respective exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea. Tokyo fears that China could siphon off resources from geological structures that extend into what it sees as its own economic zone.

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