From: Associated Press
Published September 5, 2006 12:00 AM

SKorea, Japan Begin Final Day of Talks on Maritime Borders

SEOUL, Korea — South Korea and Japan began a final day of talks Tuesday on demarcating their maritime boundaries around islets at the center of a territorial dispute, amid dimming prospects for a breakthrough.


Details of the meeting weren't immediately known, but their opening session the previous day produced "no particular progress," according to a South Korean Foreign Ministry official involved in the talks.


The two days of talks were set to close later Tuesday.


The talks are aimed at clearly setting the boundary of the two countries' exclusive economic zones in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The main sticking point is to which side the disputed islets -- known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese -- should belong.


The islands, lying roughly halfway between the two countries, are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and are believed to lie near deposits of methane hydrate, which can be used to produce natural gas.


Four rounds of talks in the 1990s to set the border failed to produce an agreement.


The two sides agreed to revive the negotiations in April this year after defusing a high-seas showdown over Japan's plan to survey waters near the South Korea-controlled islets. Seoul viewed the Japanese move as an attempt to promote its territorial claim over the islets.


The row has seriously frayed relations between the two countries, along with Japanese officials' visits to a Tokyo war shrine accused of glorifying Japan's wartime past.


South Korea suffered under Japan's colonial rule from 1910-45, and many Koreans harbor resentment for the harsh treatment under the regime.


Source: Associated Press


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