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Japan, China to resume talks on gas dispute

Japan and China are set to resume talks in Tokyo on a longstanding dispute over drilling rights in the energy-rich East China Sea after the last round ended in deadlock.

world Updated: Jun 26, 2007 10:21 IST

Japan and China are set to resume talks in Tokyo on Tuesday on a longstanding dispute over drilling rights in the energy-rich East China Sea after the last round ended in deadlock.

The negotiations come amid a degree of hope as Asia's two largest economies, which are both major energy importers, work to ease political tensions.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao paid a landmark visit to Japan in April and agreed with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe to find an amicable settlement.

But the two countries have also stood by their territorial claims and there was no visible progress at the last round of negotiations held in May in Beijing.

As part of the effort to step up dialogue, Japan and China have also appointed experts, apart from the main negotiators, to complete a study on the dispute by the autumn.

Japan's negotiator Kenichiro Sasae and Chinese counterpart Hu Zhengyue will hold one day of closed-door talks, the ninth round since the dialogue began in 2004.

Japan and China, two of the world's largest energy importers, are locked in disagreement over the boundaries between their territorial waters in the East China Sea, which is rich in gas deposits. China began test-drilling in the area in 2003, provoking outrage in Tokyo. China has proposed joint development, but only in the part of the area also claimed by Japan. A newspaper report earlier this year said Japan, seeing no headway, might be willing to compromise and propose joint development of the entire area, outraging hardliners in Tokyo.