China hopes Japan creates favourable atmosphere for leaders' meeting at Apec

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China said on Saturday that it hopes Japan can create a favourable atmosphere for an expected meeting between the two countries' leaders, a day after the two sides signalled willingness to put a bitter row over disputed islands on the back burner.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks at a briefing ahead of a meeting by leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) group in Beijing.

Asked about a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Wang said that "China attaches importance to Japan's repeated requests".

"We hope that the Japanese side takes this seriously, implement it faithfully and honour its commitment so as to create a necessary and favourable atmosphere for a meeting between the two leaders," he added.

China and Japan agreed on Friday to work on improving ties, paving the way for their leaders to meet on the sidelines of Apec.

A one-on-one meeting would be a symbolic breakthrough in ties between Asia's two largest economies, which have turned frigid in the past two years over the territorial row, regional rivalry and the bitter legacy of Japan's wartime occupation of China.

Both countries claim ownership of a tiny group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, called the Senkaku by Japan and the Diaoyu by China. The two countries acknowledged on Friday that they held different views on the territorial dispute.

Beijing has also been particularly angered by visits by Japanese government ministers, including Abe, to the Yasukuni Shrine, which China sees as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Yasukuni honours millions of war dead, including wartime leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal.

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