HANOI (Kyodo) Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, agreed Thursday the two countries should strive to conclude at an early date negotiations aimed at signing a treaty over joint gas field development in the East China Sea, a Japanese official said.

Okada and Yang, who met in Hanoi on the sidelines of meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, officially agreed that Japan and China will hold the first round of talks on sealing the gas pact Tuesday in Tokyo, the official said.

Yukio Hatoyama, Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s predecessor, and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had agreed in Tokyo in May to launch talks on the gas exploration treaty at an early date.

Akitaka Saiki, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and Ning Fukui, director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Boundary and Ocean Affairs Department, are scheduled to attend Tuesday’s meeting, sources close to bilateral relations said.

The envisaged treaty will reflect the details of an accord reached by Japan and China in 2008 over the disputed gas exploration in the area that stems from the unsettled demarcation of the East China Sea where the exclusive economic zones claimed by the two countries overlap.

Yang also expressed hope that Kan, who assumed his post in June, will visit China “at an early date,” the official said.

Okada and Yang also exchanged views on whether to reopen the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear arms program in the wake of the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March that Seoul blames on Pyongyang, the official said.

Okada said it is important for the North to clearly confirm its intention to fulfill its commitment stipulated in a 2005 joint statement issued by the six countries party to the North-denuclearization talks before reopening discussions.

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