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Work to organize Japan fishery talks still ongoing

TAIPEI--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 yesterday.

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.

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