11:29 GMT +313 December 2019
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    Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, left, and Chinese counterpart Wang Yi pose for photograph before their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China Jan. 28, 2018

    Weeks After Spike in Territorial Rift, China Extends Hand of Friendship to Japan

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    Asia & Pacific
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    BEIJING (Sputnik) - During the meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Tokyo to join efforts with Beijing to improve bilateral relations, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    "We hope that the Japanese side will not give up its efforts… and will join efforts with China to bring relations back on track of normal and healthy development," Wang said as quoted in the statement.

    The foreign minister added that Chinese-Japanese relations are such that while both sides saw progress, they faced many obstacles.

    Wang noted that the visit of the Japanese foreign minister at the beginning of 2018 was a sign of Tokyo's strong wish to improve the bilateral relations and expressed hope that the visit would bring about positive results.

    The meeting took place within the framework of Kono's two-day visit to Beijing, which kicked off on Saturday.

    READ MORE: Economic Power for China, Security for Japan: Academic on Islands Dispute

    During the talks, the two states' top diplomats agreed to take joint efforts to stabilize the situation in the East China Sea, to achieve partnership and friendly maritime cooperation in this region.

    "The parties agreed to jointly defend the free trade system, promote faster regional economic integration, create an open global economy," the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated, commenting on the talks.

    The visit is taking place amid strained relations between the two nations over a territorial dispute that has been ongoing since the 1970s. 

    Earlier this month, Beijing called on Japanese authorities to avoid creating "artificial" incidents around disputed islands, after the Japanese Kyodo news agency reported, citing the country's Defense Ministry, that a Chinese frigate and an unidentified foreign submarine had been detected outside Japanese territorial waters, near the islands.

    China says that the islands have been part of its territory since ancient times, while Japan argues the islands have been under its control since 1895. In 2014, the sides issued a joint four-point consensus on improving bilateral ties.

    The US has supported the Japanese claim, with former President Barack Obama pledging to aid Japan if China used military force to stake their claim to the islands. Similarly, President Donald Trump declared US support for the Japanese claim last February.

    North Korean Issue

    During the meeting, both China and Japan have reiterated their stance not to recognize North Korea as a nuclear state, while Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has called for stricter measures against the DPRK amid their ballistic missile tests, with one of the ballistic missiles fired over Japan's Hokkaido last August.

    "Not only do we need to manage our bilateral relations, but we also need to work together to deal with issues facing the entire globe, in particular, the issue of North Korea, which is a matter for the international community as a whole," Kono said.

    The sides have also agreed to hold a tripartite summit of leaders with the participation of South Korea as soon as possible to discuss the prospects of the peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula.

    "Both sides agreed that the maintenance of bilateral high-level intergovernmental contacts plays an important role in their development, the parties agreed to arrange a meeting of the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea as soon as possible in order to jointly build the proper environment," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    China and Japan agreed to strengthen cooperation and expand the range of common interests.

    "The sides exchanged views on the current situation on the Korean Peninsula, as well as on other regional and international issues," the ministry said without providing any details on the North Korean track.

    The situation on the Korean Peninsula grew particularly tense last year, as Pyongyang continued to pursue its nuclear and missile programs despite warnings of the international community.

    In December 2017, the UN Security Council imposed its latest round of sanctions on Pyongyang, banning oil sales to the Asian nation and buying textiles from the country. 

    However, the crisis eased in early 2018, giving hope to restore a shaky peace on the peninsula, after the two Koreas restored the hotline and struck a deal on the participation of the North at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

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    talks, Taro Kono, Wang Yi, China, Japan
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