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Japan, China senior govt. officials may meet

A senior official of the Japanese foreign ministry is likely to meet his Chinese counterpart on the sideline of talks with North Korea in Beijing.

Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau chief, Junichi Ihara, arrived in China's capital on Monday. He is to meet a North Korean envoy to discuss Japanese abducted by North Korean agents, and other missing Japanese in the country.

Diplomatic sources in Japan and China say the 2 countries are arranging a meeting between Ihara and his Chinese counterpart Kong Xuanyou in Beijing. Kong is the Director General of the Asian Affairs Department of the Foreign Ministry.

The sources say the meeting is mainly aimed at getting to know each other. Kong took the position about 2 month ago.

Observers say Ihara and Kong will likely explore a way to jump-start the stalled negotiations for a Japan-China summit and to improve the bilateral relations.

Japan and China have been at odds over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and perceptions of modern history.

Jun. 30, 2014 - Updated 09:05 UTC