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Tokyo, Seoul Fail to Agree on Sea Borders
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Japan and South Korea wrapped up two-day talks over a long-standing territorial row with no breakthrough, but agreed to meet again later this year, a news report said.

The two sides were negotiating boundaries around a set of rocky islets claimed by both sides. The talks ended with no agreement and the countries will hold another round of talks in Seoul in September, Kyodo News agency reported.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity citing ministry protocol, said the talks had ended but refused to comment on the specifics of the negotiations.

The talks on the islands called Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean were the neighbors' first on the topic in six years. Both sides want the islands as a basis to claim exclusive rights over marine resources.

Earlier Tuesday, a senior Japanese official stressed the importance of resolving the problem through talks.

"For the stable management of Japan and Korea relations it is important to carry out constructive negotiations and resolve problems through dialogue," said chief cabinet spokesman Shinzo Abe.

The disputed islands lie roughly halfway between the two countries and are currently controlled by South Korea, although they also are claimed by Japan. They are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and possible deposits of methane hydrate used to produce natural gas.

On Monday, Seoul pushed for a more extensive exclusive economic zone than it had claimed in previous talks, Kyodo News agency reported after the talks. The report said Tokyo rejected Seoul's claim.

Japanese officials refused to comment on the content of the talks on Monday.

Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, coastal nations can claim an economic zone extending 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from their shores.

(China Daily June 14, 2006)


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