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Abe tells Xi he wants new era for Japan-China relations

Pool photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping in Osaka on Thursday.

The Japan News Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wants “to start a new Japan-China era” during bilateral talks with China’s President Xi Jinping in Osaka on Thursday.

The two leaders met at a hotel in the city on the sidelines of the summit of Group of 20 major economies, which starts Friday. During the meeting, Abe invited Xi to Japan as a state guest the next time the cherry blossoms bloom, seeking to take the Japan-China relationship to the next level. “It’s a good idea to visit Japan next spring,” Xi answered.

Xi also highlighted the need to promote free trade. “The relationship between China and Japan is at a new historical starting line,” he said.

The bilateral meeting was followed by a dinner where the two leaders had “frank discussions,” according to a Japanese government official.

Xi’s visit to Japan is the first since he took office as president in March 2013. Xi arrived at Kansai International Airport in Osaka on Thursday. A visit by Xi to Japan had not been realized before now, due partly to issues over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

This is the first time for a Chinese head of state to visit Japan in nine years since 2010 — when then Chinese President Hu Jintao came to Japan.

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