SENDAI (Kyodo) Local government officials and business leaders from northeastern parts of Japan and China agreed Wednesday to promote cooperation in key economic areas, such as information technology, trade and investment.

The agreement was reached in the form of a joint declaration that was adopted at the end of a two-day meeting.

The gathering was attended by participants from Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima, Miyagi and Niigata prefectures, as well as the northeastern Chinese provinces of Liaoning, Heilongjian and Jilin.

The declaration also calls for the expansion of shipping routes linking Japanese ports on the Sea of Japan with northeastern areas of China in a bid to promote trade and investment activities.

It also urges both sides to step up efforts to create university networks for joint studies and research, as well as the development of human resources.

The next meeting of this kind will be held in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, in May 2005.

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