China, Japan begin fresh round of sea talks

China and Japan began a fresh round of talks Monday on disputed underwater gas deposits in the East China Sea, Japanese officials said.

It was the fourth time negotiators from both sides were meeting to talk about their overlapping claims to an area near Okinawa rich in oil and gas reserves.

The two-day talks between Kenichiro Sasae, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asia-Oceania Bureau, and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Zhengyao, will focus on China's response to a Japanese proposal on joint development.

"We have already presented our position, and are expecting to hear what the Chinese side thinks about this," Sasae was quoted as saying by Japan's Kyodo News agency.

Earlier Monday, Sasae also met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, who in January mediated discussions between North Korean and American negotiators to six-nation disarmament talks on the North's nuclear program.

"They discussed the North Korea nuclear issue and six-party talks," said an official with the Japanese Embassy in Beijing who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the embassy's policy.

"The Japanese side said that it is very important to resume six-party talks as soon as possible and also that it is very necessary to move ahead in order to resolve the nuclear issue," reports the AP.

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