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Resumption of fishery talks with Japan not a done deal: ministry

ROC Central News Agency

2012/10/23 14:44:05

Taipei, Oct. 23 (CNA) Taiwan and Japan are still negotiating the resumption of bilateral talks on fishing rights, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday, in response to a Japanese report that the talks are set to take place as early as November.

Taiwan hopes to hold a new round of fishery talks in November, but the two sides are still negotiating key details such as the location of the talks and issues on the agenda, ministry deputy spokesman Calvin Ho said at a news conference.

"No decision has been made so far," Ho said.

Japanese daily The Mainichi reported Monday that Japan and Taiwan are set to resume talks on fishing rights in waters around the Senkaku Islands as early as November.

The islands, known as the Diaoyutais in Taiwan, lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan. They have been under Japan's control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

Tensions over the Diaoyutais flared up after Japan moved to nationalize and strengthen its sovereignty claim over the island chain by buying three of the islets from their private owner on Sept. 11, spurring protests in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

Taiwanese fishermen consider the waters near the islands to be traditional fishing grounds but are routinely chased away from the area by Japanese authorities when they venture too close to what Japan sees as its territorial waters.

Tokyo has decided to address the issue of fishing rights around the islands in a bid to prevent China and Taiwan from teaming up on the Diaoyutai sovereignty issue, the paper reported.

Taiwan, however, has repeatedly said it will not cooperate with China on the Diaoyutais issue.

Asked to provide more details on the highly anticipated fishing talks, Ho declined to do so, saying the two sides are still in negotiations.

Taiwan and Japan last held talks on fishing rights in their overlapping territories in 2009, but the talks have been stalled since then due to differences on how to resolve the cross-border fishery disputes.

Taiwan's ministry has said the goal of the next round of talks, which would be the 17th round since the talks began in 1996, is to ensure that Taiwanese fishermen will be able to operate in waters near the Diaoyutais free from interference from Japan Coast Guard patrol boats.

(By Elaine Hou)

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