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November 28, 2009

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China, Japan plan joint exercise

China and Japan agreed yesterday to conduct their first joint military training exercise -- the latest sign of warming ties between the Asian neighbors.

Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie and his Japanese counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa agreed that their countries' armed forces would hold a joint search and rescue exercise at sea -- their first combined exercise.

The two sides would also discuss further collaborative training in humanitarian assistance and disaster rescue.

"I strongly believe that the agreement between China and Japan to conduct a joint rescue drill at sea clearly indicates tremendous progress in mutual understanding and trust between the two countries," Kitazawa told a joint news conference in Tokyo.

Liang told the news conference: "We have openly exchanged our ideas without any hesitation and agreed upon various goals by sharing issues and concerns."

In a joint press statement, they added that Kitazawa would visit China next year as part of a growing range of military exchanges, including visits by naval vessels.

Kitazawa said Tokyo sees relations with Beijing as crucial and said Japan will try to develop greater trust with its giant neighbor.

Liang said the two ministers also discussed regional security issues and said they "have a great deal in common."

"We intend to continue strengthening our ties," the Chinese defence minister said. "Our relations are very important, as is our mutual growth and prosperity."

Liang also met Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama yesterday.

Hatoyama said Japan and China will work to strengthen cooperation in economics, defense and other areas to help bilateral ties as well as regional and world peace.


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