Senior Japanese and Chinese officials to meet to discuss Abe and Xi talks
Meeting between the leaders could come at G20 summit in Hamburg in July and would focus on North Korea threat, sources say
Chinese and Japanese senior foreign affairs officials would meet in Tokyo this week, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said on Monday, with an eye to realising talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July.
Behind the move is Tokyo’s desire to go hand-in-hand with Beijing in stopping North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, which it believes has reached “a new level of threat,” diplomatic sources told Kyodo.
Kong Xuanyou, China’s assistant foreign minister who was considered a major candidate to be the next ambassador to Japan, visits Japan from Monday to Wednesday and would meet Takeo Akiba, deputy foreign minister for political affairs, the ministry said.
The two sides will discuss how to steer strained bilateral relations and a possible meeting between Xi and Abe on the margins of a summit of Group of 20 major economies in Hamburg, Germany on July 7-8.
Kong and Akiba are also seen as exchanging views on when to convene a trilateral summit between Japan, China and South Korea, which Tokyo is scheduled to chair, and a possible visit to Japan by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Xi and Abe last met in Lima, Peru in November, when they agreed that greater efforts should be made to improve relations as the two countries mark the 45th anniversary of the normalisation of diplomatic ties in the fall of this year.
Abe wants to take advantage of the milestone to eventually hold a bilateral summit either in Japan or China so as to impress on the world that relations between the two neighbours have made strides.
But it remains to be seen whether Abe’s intention will materialise due to a territorial spat over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which the Chinese call the Diaoyus, in the East China Sea.
On the North Korean nuclear and missile issue, Kong and Akiba were likely to confirm bilateral cooperation in preventing Pyongyang from taking any provocative action, based on the Chinese official’s talks with the reclusive country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ri Kil-song in Beijing on March 1, the sources said.
Since 2006, North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests along with numerous ballistic missile tests. Another nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile test could be on the cards.
Kong is responsible for Japan policy under Foreign Minister Wang Yi. It will be his first visit to Japan since he attended deputy foreign ministerial talks in February last year.
Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda met Kong in China in mid-March and affirmed the need to deal squarely with outstanding bilateral issues.