Japan eyes PM talks with China to defuse row

Japan stuck to its guns Tuesday in a row with China over a disputed island chain but also said it was open to high-level talks to defuse the worst spat in years between the Asian powers.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan now plans to attend an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels next week, officials said, making clear that he would be open to talks with Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines.

Asia’s two biggest economies have argued bitterly for three weeks over Japan’s arrest of a Chinese skipper whose boat collided with two Japanese coastguard boats near the islands in the East China Sea.

Japan has repeatedly urged rebuilding ties with its top trade partner, including a possible premiers’ meeting at the ASEM summit.

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