Airspace zone downplayed in China-Australia talks

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Associated Press

Posted on December 7, 2013 at 7:33 AM

Updated Saturday, Dec 7 at 8:02 AM

BEIJING (AP) — Australia's foreign minister says economic matters rather than a dispute over China's recently declared maritime air defense zone dominated her talks with senior Chinese officials.

Following Saturday's talks in Beijing, Foreign Minister Julia Bishop told reporters that both sides stated their stances on the zone before "we moved on to other serious issues that overshadow that regional issue."

Bishop said that the two sides also discussed North Korea, Syria and Iran, but that the talks centered on economic matters, including the prospects for a free trade agreement.

China declared the air defense zone over the East China Sea last month, drawing protests from Japan, South Korea and the United States. Australia is worried the new zone could escalate tensions in the region, but China has chided Australia for its criticisms.

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