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Diplomacy, Defense Top Future Agenda
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China and Japan yesterday pledged to intensify efforts to have more diplomatic dialogue and defensive cooperation apart from high-level economic talks and mutual support for peaceful development.

China has lifted the ban on rice imports from Japan, and the two countries will continue to work on the trade in agriculture products.

These are parts of the strategic and mutually beneficial relationship detailed in a joint press statement the two countries released yesterday after Premier Wen Jiabao met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

This is the second joint press statement by China and Japan in six months.

The document, carrying more weight than the one issued in October during Abe's ice-breaking visit to Beijing, covers a wider range of issues in a bid to take the bilateral ties to a new stage.

The two sides agreed to have navy-fleet exchanges at an early date and enhance the communication mechanism between the defense authorities of the two countries.

Also, Japan has invited the Chinese defense minister to visit Japan in autumn.

The two countries are committed to peace and stability not only between them, but also in the rest of Asia and the world.

The two foreign ministries will continue the close cooperation in regional and global issues of common concern by enhancing the bilateral strategic, security and economic partnership negotiations.

Since Japan is thinking of cooperating with China in helping African countries, the two neighbors have decided to strengthen negotiation on the subject.

On Japan's bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, China expressed its consistent position, saying it is willing to see Japan play a bigger constructive role in international affairs.

The two sides said they will enhance negotiations on the world body's reform to look for common ground.

They reaffirmed their commitment to carry out the February landmark agreement on Pyongyang's nuclear issue. China sympathized with Japan over the kidnapping issue, saying it is willing to offer all necessary help.

Sectors of mutual collaboration of the neighbors range from energy, the environment, agriculture, medical research and protection of intellectual property to finance, the judiciary and criminal justice and communication technology.

They agreed to begin work on cleaning the Bohai Bay and Yangtze River areas to prevent air and sea pollution, acid rain and sandstorms.

They will increase their cooperation on model projects to promote energy efficiency and businesses that are environmentally friendly.

The two sides announced that they will work out a consensus to start negotiations over a treaty for mutual legal help before the end of the year and push for consultations over extradition and transfer of convicts.

Also, the neighbors will enhance collaboration and cooperation in the supervision of their financial sectors.

The two sides expect to increase people-to-people exchanges, too.

To mark the 35th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries, Tokyo will send about 20,000 Japanese on a tour of 19 Chinese cities this year.

Premier Wen Jiabao and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe yesterday agreed on concrete steps to build mutually beneficial strategic ties.

Wen's three-day trip, the first by a Chinese premier in nearly seven years, comes six months after Abe went to Beijing to mend ties chilled by his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi, who repeatedly visited Yasukuni Shrine that honors Japan's war criminals of World War II.

Yesterday, the two leaders also signed agreements on energy and the environment besides the joint statement.

An environmental accord called for the two to work on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change by 2013.

The other agreement committed the two nations to cooperate on developing energy resources and building nuclear power plants in China.

During their talks, Wen said that the history issue is crucial for bilateral relations as it affects the national feeling of the Chinese people. It could be an obstacle to improved ties if not handled well, he added.

He urged the Japanese leaders to face up to history and "open up good, forward-looking relations toward a beautiful future".

Wen also reiterated China's position on the Taiwan question, hoping the Japanese side can realize the acute sensitivity of the issue and deal with it properly.

Abe reiterated Japan's commitment to the principles enunciated in the three joint documents directing bilateral relations.

On disputed waters in the East China Sea, the two sides agreed to speed up the negotiation process to seek a solution that is acceptable to both. The two sides pledged to make the area "a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship".

(China Daily April 12, 2007)

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