Japan’s Abe Tells China’s Xi Diplomatic Ties Should Be Repaired
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Chinese President Xi Jinping that the “mutually beneficial strategic” relationship between their countries should be revived, the top government spokesman said.
Abe shook hands with Xi and exchanged greetings followed by a brief discussion before a plenary session of the Group of 20 meeting in St Petersburg, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters. The informal chat yesterday was the first meeting between the two leaders.
Next week marks the first anniversary of Japan’s purchase of three uninhabited islands disputed with China. The move sparked rioting in China that damaged Japanese businesses and trade ties between Asia’s two largest economies.
“It is highly significant that the leaders of Japan and China spoke for the first time since taking office,” Suga said, adding that he believed the gap between the two countries was narrowing. He declined to give details of the conversation.
Japanese and Chinese ships have been tailing one another for months through waters near the islands known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, and no formal bilateral summit has been held for more than a year.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said Xi told Abe that relations faced “grave difficulties” and Japan should “correctly deal with such sensitive issues as the Diaoyu Islands and history.”
Abe also spoke for a few minutes with South Korean President Park Geun Hye, Suga said. Japan’s ties with South Korea have been chilled by a territorial dispute over another group of islands as well as by lingering resentment over Japan’s invasion and occupation of countries in the region during the first half of the 20th century.
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