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Premier Wen to Visit Japan in Spring
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In a sign of warming bilateral relations, Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday accepted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's invitation to visit Japan in spring. 

The leaders met one-on-one on the sidelines of the East Asian summits on the island resort of Cebu. The Philippines summit also gathered the two to discuss trade and other issues with ASEAN members.  


Japanese media quoted the country's diplomatic sources as indicating Wen would be likely to visit the country in April, although the Chinese Foreign Ministry gave no specifics.


Sino-Japanese relations are returning to normal, which is good for both sides and appreciated by the international community. The two countries should further efforts to keep the diplomatic ball rolling, Wen told Abe at the beginning of the meeting.


This year marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese ties, with 2008 marking the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Sino-Japanese Peace and Friendship Treaty. Both events may further develop bilateral ties, with both sides keeping in mind both long-term and strategic perspectives, he said.


Handling of the two countries' historical issues properly is crucial for the healthy and stable development of bilateral ties, Wen said.


Sino-Japanese relations were strained when former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japan's past militarism.


Abe visited Beijing in early October shortly after assuming office in his first overseas trip as prime minister.


During the ice-breaking visit, a strategic relationship of mutual interest was agreed upon along with the resumption of high-level visits.


Wen hoped Japan would keep to the principles laid out in the three political documents signed by the Chinese and Japanese governments and keep its promise to avoid straining bilateral relations over historical issues.


Abe responded that his stance on the historical issues had been made clear during his visit to China. Japan is ready to follow the principles and spirit laid out in the three political documents, he said.


"We look back on history modestly and we follow the path of a pacifist country" that is Japan's position on historical issues, Abe said.


(China Daily January 15, 2007)

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