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Japan, China agree to patch up ties

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 28, 2011
Japan and China agreed Monday to improve ties which were strained to breaking point over maritime collisions near disputed islands in the East China Sea five months ago.

The agreement was reached at a meeting between Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Kenichiro Sasae and his Chinese counterpart Zhang Zhijun, the Japanese foreign ministry said in a press release.

The meeting lasted about five and a half hours and was an "active, candid and pointed exchange of views," the statement said.

It was the first so-called "strategic dialogue" between the two countries at the subcabinet level since June 2009.

The two vice ministers agreed to "make efforts together to create favourable atmosphere and conditions to mark next year's 40th anniversary of the normalisation of Japan-China relations," the statement said.

They also agreed to "promote mutual trust" and "settle sensitive issues appropriately," it added.

Japan-China relations plunged to their lowest level in years last September when a Chinese trawler rammed two Japanese coastguard patrol boats near the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

The coastguard arrested the Chinese boat's captain and held him for 14 days.

On Monday Maehara told Zhang that it would contribute to stability in the region and the world if the two countries built a "win-win relationship," the statement said.

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