Russia calls on China, Japan to 'seek compromises'
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday called on China and Japan to "seek compromises" in their ugly row sparked by the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain in disputed waters.
"There is a need to directly find agreements, seek compromises," Lavrov told reporters travelling with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is on a three-day visit to China.
"We only proceed from one thing: to abide by international legal criteria in all disputes," he said.
China and Japan are embroiled in their worst diplomatic row in years, which began nearly three weeks ago with the collision of a Chinese fishing trawler and two Japanese coast guard vessels.
Tokyo arrested the captain, accusing him of intentionally ramming the patrol boats. Beijing reacted angrily, summoning Japan's ambassador numerous times to complain about the arrest and cancelling scheduled diplomatic talks.
Japan has since released the captain, but that move failed to ease the escalating dispute. China has demanded an apology, a request rejected by Tokyo, which in turn has demanded that China pull back two fisheries patrol boats.
Lavrov angrily denied that a cooperation agreement signed by Russia and China on Monday on the prevention of illegal fishing was in any way aimed at Japan, saying only someone with a "sick imagination" would link the two.
"We have sought similar agreements from our Japanese neighbours for a long time," he said, saying illegal fishing was a "serious problem" in Russia's ties with Japan and that there were "unfortunately" violations by both sides.
© 2010 AFP