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China, Japan FMs to Meet in Kyoto

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at a regular press conference on Thursday that Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing is likely to meet Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura on the sidelines of the Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) for Foreign Ministers in Kyoto, Japan from May 6 to 7.


"To the best of my knowledge, there should be such arrangements," said Qin Gang.


Qin stressed that the two sides should create proper conditions as well as the right atmosphere for higher-level exchanges.


Li's meeting follows that in Indonesia over the weekend between President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at a time of tension in Sino-Japanese relations.


Protests have been running high in Japan's neighboring countries including China since the Japanese government approved new middle-school textbooks early this month that are perceived as distorting history and whitewashing over wartime atrocities.


As for the disputes on boundary demarcations in the East China Sea, Qin said China hopes for an early round of consultation with Japan on the issue, noting all questions concerned by the two sides could be raised during the consultation.


Tokyo recently initiated procedures to grant Japanese firms the right to conduct test drilling for potential gas and oil fields in disputed areas in the East China Sea.


The Foreign Ministry condemned the move as a provocation to China's rights and the norms of international relations, calling on the two sides to solve the question through consultation and put aside disputes to engage in joint exploitation.


Qin told reporters yesterday that the chief US envoy on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue said the US is willing to stick to the six-party talks for a peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue through dialogue.


He quoted US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who visited China in the last two days, as saying that the US could "do many things" if the six-party talks were restarted.


Hill arrived in Beijing on Tuesday after talks in Seoul with South Korean officials to discuss resuming the six-party talks. Vice foreign ministers Dai Bingguo, Yang Jiechi and Wu Dawei met with Hill separately on Tuesday afternoon.


The Chinese officials reiterated in the meetings that the twin goals of restarting the six-party talks and maintaining peaceful negotiations to keep the peninsula free from nuclear weapons are in line with each party's common interests, Qin said.


He said China also urged the parties involved to further demonstrate flexibility, patience and sincerity to create favorable conditions for restarting the six-party talks at an early date.


Qin said both Chinese and US officials agreed that "maintaining the long-term healthy stable development of their relations is very important and accords with our common interests."


Beijing is the second stop of Hill's three-nation tour that took him to Japan on Wednesday.


Qin also hailed the newly launched Sino-US cooperation on container security as "an important part of the two countries' anti-terrorism cooperation."


A proposal for keeping containers secure before departure from China to the US was launched in Shanghai Wednesday, which was aimed at preventing terrorists from hiding weapons of mass-destruction.


"Such cooperation is an important part of the Sino-US anti-terrorism cooperation since the two countries established a middle- and long-term anti-terrorism exchange and cooperation mechanism in 2001," Qin said.


According to the proposal, US custom officers posted in Shanghai and Shenzhen will lodge lists of suspicious containers, along with their reasoning, to Chinese customs. The two sides will then exchange views on suspicious containers, and if they agree, Chinese customs will make a check of the containers before their departure. Chinese customs can also post officers in US ports.


Qin said that President Hu will attend the 60th anniversary ceremony for the victory of Russia's Great Patriotic War in Moscow on May 8 and 9 at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.


He also announced that Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi will visit from May 8 to 15. 


(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency April 29, 2005)

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