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Japan senior lawmaker seeks Koizumi-Hu summit-report

Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, Mar 25 (Reuters) A senior Japanese ruling party lawmaker is trying to set up a summit meeting between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao, a local newspaper said today.

Japan's ties with China have chilled markedly since Koizumi took office in 2001 and began annual visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine, where some convicted war criminals are honoured along with Japan's 2.5 million war dead.

Koizumi, who angered China last October when he made his most recent visit to the shrine, has not had a bilateral summit meeting with Hu since last April, when the two leaders met on the sidelines of an international gathering in Jakarta.

Hidenao Nakagawa, head of the Policy Research Council of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and a close aide of the prime minister, discussed the possibility of holding a Hu-Koizumi summit with a visiting official of a Chinese government-supported think tank, the Asahi newspaper said.

''Prime Minister Koizumi would like to meet with President Hu before the prime minister steps down in September,'' Asahi quoted Nakagawa as telling Zheng Bijian, chairman of the China Reform Forum, in Tokyo on March 22.

Koizumi has said he would step down when his current term as LDP president expires in September.

Zheng -- a long time adviser to China's leaders and a key proponent of China's ''peaceful rise'' -- replied that he would relay the proposal to Hu, the paper said.

Whether such an overture would actually be accepted by China, however, is open to question, considering the chilly state of bilateral ties.

Just last month, Japan's Kyodo news agency quoted Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan as telling a Japanese ruling party lawmaker in Beijing that relations between the Asian neighbours stood little chance of improving while Koizumi remains in office.

REUTERS CH KP1106

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