Japanese, Chinese foreign ministers hold talks

Foreign ministers from China and Japan met for their first bilateral talks in a year, the Japanese government said Wednesday, but the meeting failed to resolve a row over the Japanese prime minister's visits to a war shrine.

Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Aso and his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing, met late Tuesday on the sidelines of an international economic conference in Doha, Qatar, Japanese officials said.

The estranged neighbors discussed their dispute over gas deposits in the East China Sea, approaches to the North Korean issue, regional cooperation and U.N. reform, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe.

"I understand Mr. Aso and Mr. Li emphasized that Japan-China relations are one of the most important bilateral relations in the world," Abe told reporters in Tokyo.

"They agreed to further deepen interaction across all areas involving economic relations, science and technology, culture and security," he added.

Abe, however, said the two sides would have to live with their vastly different views over one of their most divisive issues: Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni war shrine.

The shrine honors Japan's 2.5 million war dead, including executed war criminals. Koizumi says he makes the visits to pray for peace, but China protests that his trips glorify Japanese's wartime conquests in Asia.

Abe said Japan wants dialogue with China, despite the dispute over the shrine, reports the AP.

I.L.