Shinzo Abe tells Chinese leaders he is ready to talk despite Diaoyus dispute

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 2:32am

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the door for dialogue between Tokyo and Beijing is always open despite a chill in relations over a territorial dispute.

But there was little sign of warmth between Abe and Premier Li Keqiang at the East Asia Summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China, Japan and South Korea. Abe said it was "unfortunate" that he and Li had not had a chance to meet during the summit in Brunei.

Li and Abe were separated by South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the round table where the leaders met. At the official photocall and hand-shaking session before the summit, Li and Abe were separated by Park and summit host Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Sino-Japanese relations have grown increasingly strained by the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, the uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea administered by Tokyo - which calls them the Senkaku Islands - but claimed by Beijing. Exchanges have grown increasingly bitter since Japan announced plans to purchase the islands from their private owners in September last year.

President Xi Jinping met Park on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Indonesia on Monday, but there was no meeting between Xi and Abe.

The Japanese leader emphasised the importance of relations with China at a press conference marking the end of the summit.

"Our relationship with China is one of the most important bilateral relations," he said. "I call on China to come to the table for dialogue."

He added that both nations had significant roles to play in ensuring regional stability, peace and prosperity.