China calls on Japan to reaffirm strategic relations in rare leader talks

China calls on Japan to reaffirm strategic relations in rare leader talks
China calls on Japan to reaffirm strategic relations in rare leader talks

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks with Chile's President Gabriel Boric during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in San Francisco November 16, 2023. — Reuters pic

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 17 — Chinese President Xi Jinping told Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida that Asia’s two largest economies should reaffirm their strategic relationship in their first face-to-face talks in a year that look to put a floor under souring ties.

The remarks, reported by Chinese state media, came at the start of talks on the sidelines of the Apec summit in San Francisco yesterday evening.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss the creation of a new dialogue framework on export control issues and fostering a safe business environment, Japanese media reported.

The countries should “focus on common interests and properly handle differences,” Xi told Kishida as they sat across from one another at a table flanked by their delegations.

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China and Japan should reaffirm their “strategic relationship of mutual benefit and give it new meaning”, he added.

Kishida told Xi: “Japan and China coexist and prosper as neighbours and have a responsibility to contribute to world peace and prosperity.”

In a joint statement in 2008, Japan and China referred to harnessing a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests” but the phrasing has been used less frequently in recent years as the historic rivals have clashed over a series of issues.

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Relations between the neighbours have been upset most recently by China’s ban on Japanese seafood following Tokyo’s decision to release treated water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea in August.

Kishida plans to call for the reversal of China’s ban and will also insist on the early release of Japanese nationals arrested by Chinese authorities, while global issues like the conflict in Gaza are also expected to be on the agenda, Japanese media reported.

The meeting follows a highly-anticipated summit between US President Joe Biden and Xi on Wednesday in which the two superpowers agreed to open a presidential hotline and resume military-to-military communications, among other matters.

On the sidelines of the Apec summit, Kishida has also met South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in their seventh meeting this year as relations between the historic rivals warm. The pair promised to push for deeper cooperation and discussed shared concerns like North Korea’s missile tests.

Yoon, Kishida and Biden are due to hold a trilateral meeting later yesterday, according to Yoon’s office.

Leaders from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum are in San Francisco for the 30th summit from November 15-17. — Reuters

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