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Panama's support of Japan island claim concerns gov't

TAIPEI--The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed grave concern yesterday over Panama's support for Japan's claim to the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.

Panama is one of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America.

MOFA issued a statement after Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, who was visiting Japan, expressed his country's support for Japan's stance on the dispute during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

The ministry reiterated the Republic of China's sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands, which lie around 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan in the resource-rich East China Sea.

Taiwan's ambassador to Panama, Diego Chou, also voiced deep concern to Panamanian Deputy Foreign Minister Francisco Alvarez de Soto over the Panamanian government stance, said Calvin Ho, deputy director-general of the ministry's Public Diplomacy Coordination Council.

The uninhabited islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China, have been under Japan's control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

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