China, Japan hail new start in relations, agree to deepen cooperation on North Korea

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on the sidelines of the Apec summit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on the sidelines of the Apec summit.PHOTOS: AFP/EPA-EFE

DANANG (REUTERS) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed a “fresh start” to the relationship between their countries after a meeting yesterday in Vietnam that saw them agree to work more closely on North Korea. 

The leaders met on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in the resort city of Danang. 

“At the end of the meeting, President Xi said this is a meeting that marks a fresh start of relations between Japan and China. I totally feel the same way,” Mr Abe told reporters.

He said he had proposed to visit China at an appropriate time, which would then be followed by Mr Xi’s visit to Japan. 

Ties between China and Japan, the world’s second- and third-largest economies, have been plagued by a long-running territorial dispute over a cluster of East China Sea islets. 

Mr Xi said he wants to advance “positive developments” and urged Japan to take more “practical actions” to improve ties and properly manage differences in a “constructive way”. 

“To improve China-Japan ties, the key is mutual trust,” he said. 

The two leaders also agreed to deepen their cooperation on North Korea and to hold a trilateral summit with South Korea at the earliest possible date.

“With the North Korea situation at an important phase, the role China ought to play is very big,” Mr Abe said. 

Japan and China also agreed to accelerate talks for early implementation of a communication mechanism between their military forces.

Mr Abe also proposed that Japan and China cooperate in doing business in third countries. 

The meeting took place weeks after the two leaders consolidated their power at home. Mr Abe won a new term as prime minister, while Mr Xi was re-elected to lead the Communist Party and was elevated within the party leadership.

Mr Xi also met South Korean President Moon Jae In yesterday (sat) and encouraged South Korea to resume dialogue with the North.