Asian elite's diplomatic moves in European decor

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 November, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 November, 1998, 12:00am

The long-awaited summit between leaders of the two major Asian countries took place yesterday afternoon in a European setting - two ornate rooms in the Western-style, century-old Akasaka Palace.

The summit was divided into two sections: a 'small-circle' meeting with seven leaders on each side, then a 'big-circle' meeting incorporating six more ministers each.

The sections were originally scheduled for 45 minutes apiece. Each overran by 15 to 20 minutes.

President Jiang started the first meeting by praising the weather, saying 'it's like a golden autumn day in Beijing'.

Prime Minister Obuchi said: 'The weather is good because you have come.' Mr Jiang, in a dark suit, set about charming journalists. After about two minutes of pictures, he turned his face saying in Japanese: 'Let's take some more shots.' The Morning Sun Room in which the small-circle meeting took place had paintings from Greek mythology on the ceiling. The wall decorations and chairs were gold laminated.

The chairs were arranged in a V shape. Apart from Mr Jiang, there were Vice-Premier Qian Qichen, Central Committee General Office director Zeng Qinghong, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Chen Jian, Assistant Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and the head of the Japan division of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Qiu Guohong.

Mr Obuchi was flanked by senior officials, including Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka.

The Colourful Flamingo Room, venue for the larger meeting, had similarly elaborate decor including three chandeliers and six stylish mirrors worthy of the Palace of Versailles.

The two leaders did not make any comment to journalists at the beginning of the second session, but Mr Jiang again showed his linguistic ability by saying 'thank you' in Japanese to members of the press.

The summit ran from 3.30 to 5.20pm, after which leaders from both sides proceeded to a ceremony for the issuance of the Sino-Japanese joint statement and a series of supplementary agreements on co-operative ventures.