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Asia

China and Japan agree to mend fences

The leaders of China and Japan have promised to rebuild their strained ties at a meeting on the sidelines of the ASEM summit in Brussels.

This Chinese trawler triggered the latest row

This Chinese trawler triggered the latest row

The summit meeting of European and Asian leaders provided an opportunity for Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao to briefly meet and talk after dinner on Monday.

Afterwards, both sides stressed the "mutual benefits" of the relationship and confirmed they had agreed to resume "high-level" talks to normalize their ties. But they did not give any details.

Both sides stick to position on disputed islands

Signaling that their recent dispute was far from over, both men also reiterated their respective country's claims to the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

Taiwan also claims the islets, which are believed to have oil and gas deposits. On September 8, Japan arrested a Chinese fishing trawler captain after his boat collided with two Japanese patrol vessels near the islands, which are de facto under Japanese control.

Naoto Kan arrives at the ASEM summit

Naoto Kan arrives at the ASEM summit

China later arrested four Japanese for allegedly filming Chinese military installations, which added to the tension, although it was claimed that the two incidents were unrelated. Three of the four Japanese nationals have been released, whereas one remains in Chinese custody.

The worst dispute between the two neighbors in recent years was only defused when Japan released the Chinese skipper; but ever since, Naoto Kan has had to face massive protests by conservatives in Japan for giving in to Chinese pressure.

tb/AFP/dpa/Reuters/AP
Editor: Anne Thomas

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