Xi Jinping, Abe meet briefly on Apec sidelines ... but China and Japan give differing accounts of it

Japanese prime minister hopes two forthcoming diplomatic anniversaries will help strengthen ties between two nations

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 10:37am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 5:09am

President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have met briefly on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru.

Yasuhisa Kawamura, a spokesman for Abe, said the two leaders “stepped a couple of paces towards each other” after a group meeting of 21 leaders on Sunday morning, and that the meeting “was a natural movement”.

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a brief statement that Xi had a short conversation with Abe in Lima “at the invitation of the Japanese side”.

Abe told Xi Tokyo was looking forward to two important anniversaries to improve ties between Japan and China, Kawamura said.

These were the 45th anniversary of the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two nations next year, and the 40th anniversary of the Japan-China peace and friendship treaty, which fell in 2018, he said.

Abe told Xi during the 10-minute meeting that he would like to seek overall improvement in Sino-Japanese ties, Kotaro Nogami, Japan’s deputy chief cabinet secretary, said.

“While dealing with outstanding issues in an appropriate manner and from a broad perspective, I’d like to forge a stable and good relationship,” Nogami quoted Abe as saying.

Xi reportedly said: “I was impressed with the prime minister’s words.

“It is important to settle outstanding issues properly and increase popular sentiment towards improving ties.”

Japan was hosting a China–Japan–South Korea summit ­before the end of this year and Abe would like to “have a fruitful meeting” with Chinese Premier Li ­Keqiang, Kawamura said.

Xi told Abe he would also like to “promote productive discussion and manage pending issues in an appropriate manner and control national emotion and sentiment”, Kawamura said.

Abe expressed his desire to have Li visit Japan for the trilateral summit, Nogami said. However, Xi gave no clear answer to that ­request, he said.

If Li attends the trilateral summit, it will mark his first visit to Japan since assuming the premiership in 2013.

Japan has been finding it hard to fix a date for the three-way summit in line with the three countries’ agreement last year to hold it in 2016.

The difficulty also stems from uncertainty over the fate of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is facing growing calls to resign due to an influence-peddling scandal involving a long-time confidante.

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Xi told Abe in September on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in China that Japan should “put aside disruptions” to bring bilateral ties back on a normal track.

September’s meeting marked the two leaders’ first one-on-one talks in 17 months.

Ties between China and Japan have been strained over issues including territorial disputes in the East China Sea.

Additional reporting by Kyodo