Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping moved to ease tensions between Asia’s largest economies, taking time off from a regional meeting to discuss territorial claims and a new China-led infrastructure bank.
It was their first meeting since November in Beijing when relations between the two nations were at a low point over their claims in the East China Sea, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
They spoke for about 25 minutes on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Bandung, capital of the southwestern Indonesian province of West Java.
“Both sides took a keen interest in improving relations,” said Yasuhisa Kawamura, press secretary for the Japanese foreign ministry.
Abe raised the issue of tensions in the East China Sea, where Japan and China both claim islands, and highlighted past agreements to seek better relations in the region, Kawamura said.
Abe suggested the two countries soon begin operation of a new communications system for emergencies and that they take up a defense dialogue for the first time in four years, Kawamura said.
Also, Abe said he would like to meet with Mr. Xi again to “speak candidly to further develop bilateral relations”.
The leaders also discussed the emerging Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a China-led lending institution that some see as a rival to the Japan-led Asian Development Bank.
Abe expressed concerns about the bank’s governance and its sustainability of funding, Kawamura said, declining to offer Xi’s response.
Xi spoke about plans for a new “Silk Road”, China’s drive to better connect the country politically and economically to South Asia, Africa and Europe by building billions of dollars’ worth of roads, ports and other infrastructure across the region.
Xi said both leaders must bear a responsibility to peaceful development and regional stability, and noted that AIIB proposals have been welcomed by the international community, state-run China National Radio said.
The meeting came after a day of speeches from Asian and African leaders on the 60th anniversary of the Bandung conference.
In his speech to the assembled leaders, Mr. Abe expressed “deep remorse” for Japan’s role in World War II, but he stopped short of offering a formal apology.
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