• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji on Sunday and urged Beijing to back Japan’s efforts to normalize diplomatic ties with North Korea, Japanese officials said.

On the sidelines of an Asia-Europe summit in Copenhagen, Koizumi briefed Zhu on his Sept. 17 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang.

Japanese officials said Zhu hailed the Koizumi-Kim summit as an “important diplomatic move.”

Zhu said China will strive to promote dialogue between North Korea and other countries as well as seek a national reconciliation on the peninsula, a Japanese official said.

According to Japanese officials, Zhu made the remarks after Koizumi briefed him on Japan’s efforts to restart normalization talks with Pyongyang.

“As a country friendly with North Korea, it is important that China urges the North to pursue a policy of international cooperation,” Koizumi was quoted as telling Zhu.

Koizumi made an unprecedented, one-day visit to North Korea last week and signed a joint declaration with Kim that committed the two countries to resume talks on the normalization of bilateral relations and ease tension in the region.

Koizumi told Zhu that Japan intends to reopen talks with North Korea on establishing diplomatic ties in October as scheduled.

Turning to Japan’s ties with China, Koizumi expressed hope for better relations as the two countries mark the 30th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations.

Koizumi noted that 13,000 Japanese representatives are currently visiting China, while another 5,000 representatives from China are in Japan to mark the anniversary.

Koizumi has put off a scheduled visit to China this year, but Japanese officials said he and Zhu did not discuss the issue.

Zhu stressed the importance of “understanding historical issues,” a reference to the Japan-China war in the 1930s and 1940s, while Koizumi reiterated his commitment to take a “straight look” on the past in striving to build stronger relations with China in the future, Japanese officials said.

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