Xi, Abe hold breakthrough meeting to end spat

Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met for the first time since the two leaders took office, a diplomatic breakthrough after years of strained relationship over territorial disputes and wartime history.

Television footage showed a grim-faced Xi shaking hands with Abe at the Great Hall of the People here before they settled for talks.

In his meeting with Abe, Xi said?China hopes that Japan continues to follow the path of peaceful development and adopt prudent military and security policies.

To build stable and healthy bilateral relations, China and Japan must conform to the progressive trend of the times, Xi said.

He urged Japan to “do more things that help enhance the mutual trust between Japan and its neighbouring countries, and play a constructive role in safeguarding the region’s peace and stability.” ????

He said the Chinese government has always attached importance to its ties with Japan, and has advocated pushing forward Sino-Japanese ties on the basis of the four political documents reached between China and Japan and in the spirit of “taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future”.

Abe said Japan is determined to continue the path of peaceful development, noting that the current Japanese administration will maintain the same views held by previous governments on the history issue.

“Japan is willing to implement the four-point agreement reached between China and Japan, properly handle related issues and make it the new starting point for promoting the improvement and development of the strategic and mutually- beneficial relations between Japan and China,” Abe said.

“China’s peaceful development is a significant opportunity for Japan and the world,” he told Xi, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Abe arrived in Beijing yesterday to take part in the two-day Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders meeting beginning today.

There were no high-level meetings between the two countries for over two years.

Today’s meeting followed a meeting of their foreign ministers two days ago here to reach a four-point agreement to rest their ties without prejudicial to their claims on the islands called Senkakus by Japan and Diaoyus by China.

Located in the East China Sea, the uninhabited islands believed to be rich with oil and natural resources were administered by Japan.

The row erupted when Japan bought the islands from a private party which China asserted amounted to its nationalisation.