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Taiwan, Japan discussing meetings on fishery talks: ministry

ROC Central News Agency

2012/10/30 15:56:14

Taipei, Oct. 30 (CNA) Taiwan and Japan are still discussing holding preparatory meetings before a 17th round of bilateral fishery talks can take place, a Taiwanese foreign affairs official said Tuesday.

Some officials with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have expressed the hope that the fishery talks will be held next month, "but the time (for the talks) does not necessarily have to fall in November," said Chou Yin-hwou, deputy director-general of the ministry's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Chou said at a press briefing that Taiwan and Japan are still trying to arrange preparatory meetings that will decide the date, location and agenda of the talks on fishing rights in waters near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.

The official's comments suggested a slower pace of progress than had been anticipated, but asked whether the talks have been delayed, Chou said he did not sense any delay in the process.

Taiwan and Japan are both willing to sit down at the negotiating table to resolve the issue of fishing rights in disputed waters near the Diaoyutai Islands, he said, without explaining what the stumbling block has been in setting up the highly anticipated talks.

The two countries have pushed for a resumption in talks on fishing rights for over a month, since Japan first ratcheted up tensions over the Diaoyutais by buying three of the islets from their private owner on Sept. 11, sparking protests in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

On Sept. 25, Taiwanese fishermen, accompanied by Coast Guard vessels, sailed more than 60 boats close to the Diaoyutais to press their case for fishing rights in the disputed waters, leading to new calls for talks on the issue from both countries.

Taiwan and Japan last held talks on fishing rights in their overlapping territories in 2009, but the talks have been stalled since then.

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.

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

(By Elaine Hou)

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