Japan will propose to China and South Korea this week that the three neighbors designate 2002 a special year of cultural and personnel exchanges in an effort to promote mutual understanding and friendship, government sources said Monday.

The proposal will be made at the planned second meeting of top leaders from the three countries — Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and South Korean President Kim Dae Jung — when they meet on the fringes of their annual two-day meeting with top leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore.

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