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Abe, Xi vow to promote leaders' talks for firmer Japan-China ties

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi
Jinping agreed Saturday to strengthen their dialogue with the goal of
improving bilateral relations, especially as this year marks the 45th
anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties.

They affirmed an intention to build "stable" relations, as well
as promote economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges
between Asia's two biggest economies, a senior Japanese official told
reporters after their talks on the fringes of the Group of 20 summit
in Hamburg, Germany.

Abe urged Xi to play a "more constructive role" in reining in
North Korea, saying its nuclear and missile development poses "a new
level of threat" after Pyongyang test-launched its first
intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday.

It was the first Abe-Xi meeting since the summit of the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Peru last November.

In Saturday's talks, Abe expressed eagerness to realize mutual
visits by the two countries' leaders to their countries. He also
called for holding a trilateral summit with China and South Korea in
Japan at an early date.

If Xi visits Japan, he will be the first Chinese president to do
so since Hu Jintao in 2008. Abe last visited China in September 2016.

Referring to the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties'
normalization and the 40th anniversary next year of the Japan-China
Treaty of Friendship and Peace, Xi was quoted by the Japanese
official as saying he "would like to advance China-Japan relations in
a right direction."

Abe was quoted as saying he "would like to further develop the
momentum for improving relations" toward the 40th anniversary next
year and beyond.

Abe expressed interest in cooperating in China's "One Belt, One
Road" initiative of building closer economic links along and beyond
the ancient Silk Road trade routes, according to the Japanese

"I hope (the initiative) will fully take into account views
commonly held by the international community, and that (the
initiative) will make positive contributions to prosperity of the
region and the world," Abe was quoted as saying.

Last month, the prime minister said that for Japan to join the
initiative, it is critical for infrastructure to be open to use by
all and to be developed through procurement that is transparent and

Abe urged Xi to "improve the situation in the East China Sea,"
in an apparent reference to Beijing's assertive claims to the
Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands.

"It is important to ensure the free and open maritime order
based on the rule of law no matter which region is involved," he said.

China has repeatedly sent coast guard ships to Japanese
territorial waters near the uninhabited islets in the sea.

Xi was quoted by the official as saying he "will maintain peace
and stability in the East China Sea," without elaborating.

The leaders agreed to cooperate in ensuring an early
implementation of a bilateral maritime and aerial communication
mechanism designed to prevent unintended clashes in the East China
Sea, the official said.

Xi urged Japan to learn from history for a better future -- in a
veiled reference to Japan's aggression in China during and before
World War II -- and to honor Beijing's position that Taiwan is part
of China, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xi was quoted by Xinhua as saying that issues related to history
and Taiwan, which he said are vital to the political foundation of
bilateral ties, "bear no room for compromise or regression, or the
bilateral relations will veer off the right course and slow down the
pace of development."

Meanwhile, Abe and Xi pushed North Korea to give up its nuclear
ambitions, affirming that Tokyo and Beijing share a common goal of
achieving denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the Japanese
official said.

Abe urged Beijing -- which has considerable influence and
economic leverage over Pyongyang -- to step up sanctions on its
defiant neighbor, saying, "It is vital now to strengthen pressure on
North Korea" to change its course.

However, Xi was quoted by another Japanese official as saying
China has strictly been implementing U.N. sanctions on North Korea,
and that Beijing opposes unilateral sanctions on the country such as
U.S. sanctions on Chinese entities doing businesses with the North.

Xi repeated the Chinese view that dialogue and sanctions are
both important, according to the official. (July 8)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before their talks in Hamburg, Germany, on July 8, 2017. They discussed bilateral relations and ways to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions.