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International relations

Japan voices eagerness to work for Xi's possible visit

Foreign ministers meet to lay groundwork for Chinese leader's spring trip

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, left, and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, pose for a photo in Beijing on Aug. 20.   © Kyodo

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Tuesday expressed willingness to step up efforts to prepare for Chinese President Xi Jinping's planned state visit to Japan next spring, during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

Their talks on the fringes of a three-way gathering with South Korea at a resort area in Beijing were also focused on regional issues including North Korea and other possible fields of cooperation.

To make successful Xi's possible visit to Japan as a state guest, "I would like to exchange views in a candid manner" with China about bilateral concerns, Kono told Wang at the outset of the meeting.

When they last met in early August on the sidelines of gatherings related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Bangkok, Wang and Kono agreed to make coordinated efforts for the success of Xi's first state visit to Japan since coming to power in 2013.

On the reginal security front, North Korea has repeatedly launched projectiles including short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast since July 25, in protest of a South Korea-U.S. joint military drill that started earlier this month.

Senior Japanese officials labeled the launches "grave threats and a serious matter to our country," while China has continued to urge all parties to engage in dialogue.

On Wednesday, Wang, Kono and their South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung Wha will also likely discuss North Korea, in what will be the first three-way meeting since August 2016.

The meeting comes as ties between Japan and South Korea have sunk to the lowest in years due to disputes over wartime history and trade policy. Kono and Kang met in early August at the ASEAN gathering in Bangkok but failed to resolve the bilateral spat.

The trilateral meeting comes after diplomatic sources said that the foreign ministers would coordinate the schedule for their leaders' summit chaired by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in December.

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