China, Japan meet amid territorial tensions

China and Japan met in an attempt to repair soured relations over a maritime territorial dispute.

Hanoi: China and Japan met on Friday, in an
attempt to repair soured relations over a maritime territorial
dispute, with Japan asking for the lifting of a block on rare
earth exports, crucial to its high-tech manufacturing.

China`s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Japanese
counterpart Seiji Maehara went into private talks on the
sidelines of a regional Asian summit, hoping to lay the
foundation for a meeting between Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime
Minister Naoto Kan.

"The discussion took place in a good atmosphere. It
was held calmly while both sides said what we should say. I
believe it is likely that the leaders of China and Japan will
hold a meeting here in Hanoi," Maehara told reporters after
the hour-plus talks in the Vietnamese capital.

The two countries have sought to repair ties brought
to a new low after a Chinese fishing trawler collided with
Japanese patrol boats last month near disputed islands in the
East China Sea. Tensions have remained high, despite Japan`s
release of the boat captain, with anti-Japanese protests
flaring up in cities across China.

Japan also asked China to unblock the export of
rare earths and reopen talks on the joint development of gas
fields in the East China Sea, Maehara said, adding that China
responded that it would consider both requests. Beijing
suspended the gas field talks during the spat, but has denied
blocking rare earth exports despite reports from Japanese
companies that the exports have been frozen since the dispute
flared up in late September.

Tokyo recently said it planned to mine rare earths in
Vietnam as a way to reduce its dependence on China, which
ships 60 percent of its metals to Japan.

Territorial disputes between China and its neighbours
are expected to be raised during the continuing regional
summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which
will broaden to include other leaders from Asia, the United
States, Russia and elsewhere.


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