Japan, China hold talks on gas deposits

Japan and China held one-day talks Thursday in Tokyo over their competing claims to gas reserves in the East China Sea, with officials pledging to make progress toward a solution.

Kenichiro Sasae, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asia-Oceania Bureau, said the two countries need to cooperate to resolve the issue.

"There are differences in opinions on both sides, but it is important to make progress toward resolving the issue with a broad picture in mind," he said at the start of Thursday's talks.

During a break, Sasae told reporters that the two countries' positions "remained divided." "We haven't agreed on anything at this point," he said.

Hu Zhengyue, chief of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Department of Asian Affairs, said the two countries should remain optimistic.

"We should be confident about the prospect (of progress). China wants to work hard with Japan so we can make progress," Hu said.

The talks were to continue through Thursday afternoon, Sasae said, adding that officials are arranging another round of talks, possibly in June.

Earlier this week, China warned not to expect any breakthrough at the talks.

The issue has strained relations between Beijing and Tokyo. China claims it has rights to the gas reserves under the sea bed in the East China Sea's Pinghu field, but Tokyo says the two countries should share them.

Repeated meetings between the countries have failed to resolve the dispute, reports the AP.

I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team