China, Japan meet amid territorial tensions
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Last Updated: Friday, October 29, 2010, 14:32
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.


First Published: Friday, October 29, 2010, 14:32

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