China-Japan relations too strained for talks
China's Premier has threatened "further action" against Japan unless it immediately releases a trawler captain arrested in disputed waters, as Beijing’s leader intervened for the first time in a row between Asia's largest powers.
Japan in turn called for talks to resolve the feud, but rejected China's territorial claim to disputed islets near where the Chinese skipper was apprehended by Japanese coast guard crews two weeks ago.
"I strongly urge the Japanese side to release the skipper immediately and unconditionally," Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday night in New York.
"If Japan clings to its mistake, China will take further actions, and the Japanese side shall bear all the consequences that arise," he said, urging Tokyo to "correct its mistakes to bring relations back on track".
The dispute between China and Japan has drawn concern in Washington, and both Wen and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan were due to hold talks at the UN this week with US President Barack Obama.
However, the Chinese foreign ministry said Tuesday that talks between Wen and Kan on the sidelines of the summit would be inappropriate as the issue had “severely hurt bilateral relations"
“The atmosphere is obviously not suitable for such a meeting,” a spokesperson said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, also visiting New York for the UN General Assembly, dismissed China's longstanding claim over the rocky islets, which lie near possible oil and gas fields in the East China Sea.
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