Fri, Oct 29, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Talks between China, Japan and S Korea canceled

AFP, TOKYO

A meeting scheduled this week between the economic ministers of Japan, China and South Korea in Hanoi has been canceled, a Tokyo trade ministry official confirmed yesterday.

The three-way talks had been slated to take place on the sidelines of a summit of the 10-nation ASEAN today and the wider 16--nation East Asia Summit tomorrow, which includes China.

The cancellation could cloud prospects for a bilateral meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) in Hanoi amid a bitter territorial dispute between the two sides.

The Japanese official said the three-way meeting was canceled “due to difficulties in the adjustment of ministers’ schedules.”

Kyodo News, citing Japanese government sources, reported that China canceled the talks because of a spat over its export restrictions on rare earth minerals, which are used in the manufacture of high-tech goods.

However, the trade ministry official could not confirm this. Beijing and Tokyo have been locked in their worst row in years after Japan arrested a Chinese trawler captain on Sept. 8 near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in the East China Sea.

China reacted with fury, issuing protests, scrapping high-level meetings and bilateral cultural events in a diplomatic offensive that continued after Japan freed the captain.

Asked whether Wen and Kan would meet in Hanoi, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu (馬朝旭) said on Tuesday: “We hope the Japanese side will take concrete actions to create the necessary conditions and atmosphere for meetings between the two sides.”

Japan’s top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, yesterday told a news conference that “diplomatic authorities are working hard” to set up a meeting in the Vietnamese capital today.

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