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Abe, Xi agree to pursue early summit with South Korea

Kentaro Aoyama/The Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands ahead of bilateral talks held in Da Nang, Vietnam, on Saturday.

Jiji PressDA NANG, Vietnam (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed Saturday to realize a trilateral summit among their countries plus South Korea as early as possible.

Meeting in Da Nang, central Vietnam, Abe and Xi also reaffirmed cooperation to apply greater pressure on North Korea, which continues nuclear and ballistic missile development.

The Japanese government is aiming to hold the trilateral summit in Japan within this year.

At the beginning of the bilateral summit, Xi said that China and Japan still have a lot to do to improve their relations, adding that he wants to make positive development.

Abe stressed that Japan aims to promote efforts to improve bilateral ties toward the 40th anniversary next year of the conclusion of the Japan-China peace and friendship treaty.

Abe proposed his visit to China at an appropriate time next year while asking Xi to visit Japan at the earliest possible time. Xi said that he attaches importance to mutual visits by the two countries’ leaders and that his meeting with Abe on Saturday marks a new start of China-Japan relations, according to Abe.

Meanwhile, the two leaders agreed that Tokyo and Beijing will accelerate talks for the early launch of operations of an air and maritime liaison mechanism aimed at preventing accidental clashes between the two nations in the East China Sea.

In reference to history issues between China and Japan, Xi told Abe that the two nations need to appropriately control the difference between their positions in a constructive manner, according to Chinese sources.

Abe said that the entire international community should maximize pressure on North Korea, calling on China, an ally of Pyongyang, to work harder over issues related to the reclusive state.

Abe and Xi confirmed close cooperation for the full implementation of U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions against North Korea.

On the economic front, Abe proposed cooperation between Japanese and Chinese companies in third countries.

Abe and Xi agreed to promote discussions on how the two countries can contribute to regional prosperity, including through China’s “One Belt, One Road” development program for countries along the old Silk Road.

The Abe-Xi meeting was the first since they met in Hamburg, Germany, in early July on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies. It was also the first meeting between the two leaders since Xi started his second term at the Communist Party of China’s 19th National Congress in October.

In talks with reporters after Saturday’s meeting, Abe said that he also plans to hold talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in the Philippines on the margin of a series of summits related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations starting on Monday.

It is rare for China’s president and premier to hold talks with Japan’s prime minister in such a short period of time. In this regard, a senior official of Japan’s Foreign Ministry expressed hopes that China may be sending a signal showing its readiness to promote relations with Japan.

Still, Tokyo is concerned that China, which is rapidly boosting its economic and military presence, may further beef up maritime expansion in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, as Xi made clear his intention to push ahead with his hard-line stance at the CPC National Congress.

At the Saturday meeting with Xi, Abe stressed that there will be no real improvement in Japan-China relations without stability in the East China Sea.

Xi, for his part, described mutual trust as a key to improving the bilateral relationship, saying that Japan should take many more actions to show that it will not pose a threat, according to Chinese sources.

It would not be easy to realize visits by the Japanese and Chinese leaders to each other’s country amid a host of hurdles, such as history issues and the confrontation over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are under Japan’s administration and claimed by China, analysts said.

There is little room for China to make concessions over the island issue, they said, adding that China continues to detain eight Japanese people on suspicions including espionage.

The current momentum for dialogue could be broken if something happens, a Chinese expert on Japan said.Speech

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