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FM: Diaoyu row 'will not derail ties'

2009-03-02 00:36:21 GMT2009-03-02 08:36:21 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

China and Japan agreed over the weekend that their conflicting claims over the Diaoyu Islands should not undermine overall bilateral relations.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his visiting Japanese counterpart Hirofumi Nakasone came to this agreement on Saturday.

"The two foreign ministers shared the view that the two sides' differences on this matter should not undermine the overall relationship between the two countries," Kazuo Kodama, spokesman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry, told media yesterday before Nakasone left Beijing.

The top Japanese diplomat wrapped up his 27-hour visit to China yesterday after meeting Premier Wen Jiabao.

Yang and Nakasone agreed that "it is only natural for neighbors to have problems from time to time", Kodama added.

Nakasone's first visit to China since he took office in September came amid a diplomatic row caused by Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso's claims last week that the five small islets located between Taiwan and Okinawa are Japanese territory and thus covered by the Japan-US security treaty.

It was the first time a Japanese prime minister had made such a statement.

In his meeting with Nakasone, Yang reiterated China's stance on the issue and urged Japan to "proceed with discretion in word and deed", the Foreign Ministry said in a press release Saturday night.

However, Yang also said Beijing still cherishes relations with Tokyo; while Nakasone said Japan expects to strengthen "strategic and mutually cooperative relations" with China, according to Japan's Kyodo News Agency.

The two sides also vowed to closely monitor the situation on the Korean Peninsula, which is tense after reports indicated Pyongyang could be planning to test-fire a long-range missile, Kodama said.

"I would like to request North Korea to exercise self-restraint and not to escalate the tension or anxiety in the region," Kodama quoted Nakasone as saying.

Pyongyang announced last week that it was preparing to launch a communications satellite into orbit as part of its space development program.

Nakasone said Japan would see the launch of either a satellite or a missile as a violation of the UN Security Council resolution passed in 2006 forbidding Pyongyang from ballistic activity.

Kodama said the Chinese leaders "listened to our view" on Pyongyang's possible missile test.

He said Japan would like to continue talks on the issue under the Six-Party Talks, but said there is no timetable for the next round of talks, which have been stalled by difficulty in verifying Pyongyang's denuclearization reports.

Wen has asked Nakasone to deliver an invitation to Taro Aso, who took office in September, to make his first official visit to China, Kodama said; and Kyodo News Agency has reported the visit may come as early as this month.

Meanwhile, China's top legislature ratified a consular agreement with Japan on Saturday, which former diplomats said would help improve ties.

The pact, approved by the National People's Congress, will help nationals of both the countries have better access to their consulates in case of emergencies.

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