China, Japan fail again to resolve gas dispute

SHANGHAI Sat Feb 23, 2008 4:03pm GMT

SHANGHAI Feb 23 (Reuters) - China and Japan failed again to reach an agreement on the development of natural resources under the sea between the two countries at the latest round of dialogue ended in Beijing on Saturday.

But China and Japan have agreed to work together to resolve the long-standing dispute over natural gas under the East China Sea sooner rather than later, the Xinhua news agency said, citing a statement by China's Foreign Ministry.

"The two sides ... agreed that they should continue to make efforts in accordance with the consensus reached by the leaders of both countries, to strive for an early proper settlement of the issue," Xinhua said after two days of talks in Beijing.

About a dozen rounds of official-level talks between the energy-hungry Asian giants have failed to reach a compromise on use of natural gas in parts of the East China Sea over which both sides claim economic rights.

Beijing has said it hoped to settle the dispute ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Tokyo in the spring. It would be the first by a Chinese head of state to Japan in 10 years.

"President Hu Jintao's visit to Japan this year will be a historic visit that will carry on the past and open a way for the future," Xinhua quoted the Foreign Ministry statement as saying.

The two-day "strategic dialogue" meeting was co-chaired by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart Mitoji Yabunaka, Xinhua said. (Reporting by Charlie Zhu; Editing by Sami Aboudi)

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