• Kyodo News

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Japan and China remained apart Thursday in their dispute over gas exploration rights in the East China Sea, but China tabled a proposal for joint development to break the impasse and the two sides agreed to meet again next week.

The one-day Tokyo meeting came as part of the nations’ diplomatic efforts to iron out differences over issues such as the gas dispute ahead of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Japan next month.

“The Chinese side presented a view that can be taken as constructive,” Kenichiro Sasae, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told reporters after the meeting.

Sasae was referring to China’s ideas on how to proceed with joint development but declined to give any details.

The gas dispute stems from the unsettled demarcation of the East China Sea where the two countries’ economic waters overlap.

Both countries say they should resolve the row by jointly developing the area, but they differ on where this should take place.

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