President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are likely to meet on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Germany early next month.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular press conference yesterday that the officials of the two countries are working to coordinate the talks and the result would be announced next week.
Japanese media said the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and the dispute over gas exploration rights in the East China Sea would be high on the agenda of Hu-Abe talks.
It would be the third meeting between the two leaders since Abe visited China last October soon after taking office in a bid to mend bilateral ties.
They met again a month later in Vietnam on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.
As for the ties with NATO, Jiang said China is willing to "maintain contact" and "intensify exchanges" with NATO on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
"This is conducive to increasing understanding between the two sides and also helps promote international and regional peace and stability," Jiang said.
She was commenting on remarks by NATO senior officials on China relations. NATO refers to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a Western alliance during the Cold War.
NATO Military Commission Chairman General Ray Henault said yesterday the organization was ready and willing to set up direct "military-to-military" relations with China. On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters that relations between the NATO and China are developing "very well."
NATO's bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade eight years ago, which killed three Chinese journalists, sent relations between the two sides plummeting to their lowest point.
Responding to a question about the Darfur issue, Jiang said China believes all parties should make efforts to build mutual trust and continue to push for a political resolution through dialogue.
Special envoy Liu Guijin left Sudan on Wednesday after a five-day visit where he met senior Sudanese officials.
"We hope the Sudanese side could be more flexible" in implementing the peace plan proposed by former UN chief Kofi Annan to step up the political process in the Darfur region, Jiang said.
On talks between China and Japan on gas exploration in the East China Sea, which start in Beijing today, Jiang said leaders of the two countries have reached a consensus on the issue.
"Both sides should actively promote the consultation process based on the consensus in a bid to work out a plan that is acceptable to the two countries as soon as possible."
China will not accept joint development of the East China Sea with the "median line" proposed by the Japanese side as a precondition, she said.
According to Japanese media, Tokyo has proposed that the two nations jointly develop natural gas in a much wider area of the East China Sea straddling the Japan-designated median line.
Replying to a question about Myanmar's political reform, Jiang said it is Myanmar's internal affair.
China has been insisting the issue should be resolved by the Myanmar government and its people through consultations, she said.
"The international community should adopt an active and constructive attitude to help Myanmar promote the process of national reconciliation without damaging the nation's sovereignty and national dignity," Jiang said.
In another development, Jiang said German President Horst Koehler's China visit would be a "very important" one as it coincides with the 35th anniversary of the establishment of China-Germany diplomatic ties.
"We hope to increase consensus while reducing disputes through dialogue, so as to lift bilateral relations to a new level." Jiang added.
Koehler arrived in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province on Wednesday, starting a four-day state visit to China. This is his first ever China tour since he took office.
During his visit as guest of President Hu, Koehler is expected to hold talks with Hu, and meet with Premier Wen Jiabao and top political advisor Jia Qinglin.
(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency May 25, 2007)