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China, Japan start high-level dialogue amid new period of ties
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After the "spring herald" visit by Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to China in December, Sino-Japan relations have entered a favorable period of improvement and development, said Gao Hong, a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences researcher.

The two sides agreed during Fukuda's visit that Hu will visit Japan in the coming spring, specifically in April. The visit, the first by a Chinese head of state to Japan in 10 years, is one of the most important opportunities for further development of bilateral ties.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China, and is also the China-Japan Youths Friendly Exchange Year and the Beijing Olympic year.

"It is undoubtedly significant to hold the new dialogue at this new period for China-Japan relations, particularly right ahead President Hu's visit to Japan in April," said Gao. "An important task of the dialogue is to discuss on the prior preparation for the visit."

The "strategic dialogue" was attended by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart, Mitoji Yabunaka, the first time for the two to lead delegations to the dialogue. The talks started at 3:30 P.M. at Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse and were scheduled to end on Saturday morning.

The two-day meeting may also focus on how to promote the building of China-Japan strategic and mutually beneficial relationship, including some major issues of common concern, such as the East China Sea, Gao said.
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