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No Agreement in Japan-South Korea Maritime Talks


No progress was made during the first talks in six years between Japan and South Korea concerning a disputed maritime boundary.

Two days of talks in Tokyo between South Korea and Japan have ended with no progress, only an agreement to meet again in September to discuss their territorial dispute.

The two Asian neighbors discussed their differences about where to draw the maritime boundaries for their exclusive economic zones.

The talks held at the Japanese Foreign Ministry Monday and Tuesday were the first formal discussions between Tokyo and Seoul on the issue in six years.

At the heart of the issue are tiny islands and reefs South Korea has controlled since the early 1950s, which Japan also claims. The disputed islands, known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese, total less than one-quarter square kilometer. But the surrounding waters are rich in marine resources, including fish and potential gas reserves.

Japan's Fisheries Minister Shoichi Nakagawa says South Korea must act responsibly.

Nakagawa says South Korea has to take into consideration the precious natural resources in the disputed waters and negotiate in line with international protocol.

Tensions over the area flared in April, when Japan's Coast Guard announced it was going to conduct a survey in the disputed waters. That was a response to Seoul's decision to have an international body switch the names of some underwater features in the region from Japanese to the Korean language.

A last-minute deal for both countries to back down averted a clash at sea.

South Korea and Japan agreed in 1999 to allow fishermen from both countries to work in the disputed waters.

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