Japan's PM calls for high-level talks with China

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) speaks next to Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam during the 33rd Singapore Lecture at The Ritz Carlton in Singapore on Friday, July 26, 2013. Mr Abe called on Friday
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) speaks next to Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam during the 33rd Singapore Lecture at The Ritz Carlton in Singapore on Friday, July 26, 2013. Mr Abe called on Friday for a leaders' summit or a foreign ministers' meeting between his country and China as soon as possible. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on Friday for a leaders' summit or a foreign ministers' meeting between his country and China as soon as possible.

Ties between China and Japan have been strained by a territorial dispute over uninhabited East China Sea islets.

Citing the importance of relations between Asia's two biggest economies, he said the talks should not have any preconditions.

Mr Abe made the comments during a visit to Singapore and in answer to questions at an academic forum.

Mr Abe's remarks came two days after Japan scrambled fighter jets in response to a Chinese military aircraft flying for the first time through international airspace near its southern islands out over the Pacific.