China rules out Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe meeting at Sochi Games

BEIJING (AFP) - China on Tuesday ruled out a meeting between President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the opening ceremony for the Sochi Winter Olympics, as a row between the Asian giants rumbles on.

Beijing confirmed Monday that Mr Xi would attend the Games, which open on Feb 7, while reports in Japan said last week that Mr Abe was planning to go, although no details have been confirmed.

"The Chinese government will not consider any contact with the Japanese leader during the Sochi games," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told reporters in Beijing.

Tokyo and Beijing are embroiled in a series of rows, including a long-running diplomatic row over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Tensions rose further last month when Mr Abe visited the Yasukuni shrine, which honours Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals.

Mr Cheng was also asked what would happen in the event of an encounter between Mr Xi and Mr Abe.

"I think the Chinese leader will solemnly state the position of the Chinese government," Mr Cheng said.

US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande are among leaders who have said they will not attend the Games, seen as one of the most controversial in modern history.

Russia's adoption in June of a law prohibiting the dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors has sparked protests from human rights groups and calls for a boycott of the country's first post-Soviet Olympics.

The confirmation of Mr Xi's appearance at the games - a pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin - has been seen as a show of support for the Russian strongman.

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