• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and her Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing, agreed Tuesday that Li will visit Japan in August.

But the two made little progress on organizing a trip to China by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Japanese officials said.

Kawaguchi and Li, who took his post in March, met in Phnom Penh on the sidelines of a series of meetings hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The bilateral meeting follows a summit May 31 between Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao during which they agreed to establish future-oriented bilateral ties.

In her meeting with Li, Kawaguchi said it would be beneficial if his trip to Japan takes place in August, when some events celebrating the 25th anniversary of the countries’ bilateral peace treaty will be conducted, the officials said.

Japan and China signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship on Aug. 12, 1978. , six years after the September 1972 restoration of ties.

Li responded that he appreciated the invitation, they said.

He said China is positive about the possibility of Koizumi visiting Beijing, but he reiterated that the country hopes to create a more favorable environment first.

Such an atmosphere would come about by dealing appropriately with bilateral history and Taiwan, Li said.

A Japanese official said China’s position on a Koizumi visit has eased slightly, but this does not mean there will be an immediate breakthrough.

The visit has been stalled because of Koizumi’s repeated visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which honors some 2.47 million of Japan’s war dead as well as 14 convicted Class-A war criminals.

Kawaguchi also proposed holding a security dialogue between the two countries, which has been postponed due to the SARS outbreak, the officials said.

Meanwhile, Kawaguchi told Li she hopes China will adopt Japan’s bullet-train system for a new high-speed rail link between Beijing and Shanghai.

Li responded that China recognizes Japan’s experience in building such systems.

Germany and France, which also have advanced railway technologies, are believed to be in the race to build the new system.

N. Korea talks backed

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing expressed support Tuesday for Japan’s and South Korea’s wish to participate in multilateral talks on the North Korean nuclear problem, Japanese officials said.

Li made the comments in a meeting with Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and Yoon Young Kwan, South Korea’s minister of foreign affairs and trade, they said.

The three met on the sidelines of the annual, two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum.

Kawaguchi also called for support and understanding for Japan’s efforts to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals being abducted by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the officials said.

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