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China, Japan agree to talks on disputed gas field

China, Japan agree to talks on disputed gas field

SYDNEY (Thomson Financial) – Japan and China have agreed to hold further talks on proposed joint exploration of a disputed natural gas field in the East China Sea, a Japanese official said.

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi agreed that senior officials should discuss the proposal in Beijing on Sept 21, foreign ministry spokesman Mitsuo Sakaba told reporters.

Tokyo accuses Beijing’s state-run companies of ‘unilaterally’ exploring for hydrocarbon deposits, primarily natural gas, along an undersea field that covers the sea border of the two Asian powers.

‘This issue has been a point of major conflict between China and Japan,’ Sakaba said, adding that Tokyo had proposed joint exploration.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao had agreed during Wen’s visit to Tokyo in April to hold consultations on the issue to try to seek a compromise position, the spokesman added.

‘We agreed this time to have the next senior official-level consultation on the 21st of September,’ Sakaba said.

‘The two foreign ministers expressed the political will to make maximum efforts to produce a political result, meaning some common solution,’ he added.

Sakaba said Tokyo wanted the two countries to focus more on the conclusion of the issue before the visit of the Japanese premier to China later in the year.

tf.TFN-Europe_newsdesk@thomson.com

ejp/jr

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