BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed Friday to elevate bilateral relations to the next level to usher in a new era of cooperation.
The two countries should move bilateral relations in a "new historic direction," at a time when "instability and uncertainties are growing" across the globe, Xi told Abe at the beginning of their roughly 80-minute summit at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.
"As partners, Japan and China will not become a threat to each other," Abe said in response. "We must develop a free and fair trading system."
The prime minister said he hopes to "take bilateral relations to a new era, from competition to cooperation."
Abe's trip marks the first official visit to China by a sitting Japanese leader for bilateral meetings in seven years.
Abe invited Xi to visit Japan next year, an offer the Chinese leader is "seriously considering," according to Tokyo. If he accepts, Xi would be the first Chinese president to visit Japan since Hu Jintao in 2008.
The meeting would likely take place at the end of June, before or after the G-20 summit in Osaka. Details on the timing will be discussed later.
Earlier in the day, Abe met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in the Great Hall of People in Beijing.
"Switching from competition to collaboration, I want to lift Japan-China relations to a new era," Abe said during the initial remarks of the meeting. "Japan and China are neighbors and partners. We will not become a threat to each other."
Abe also said that Japan wants to work with China to "develop free and fair trading relations," and added that "Premier Li and I have confirmed these principles."
With relations returning to a normal track, responded Li, Beijing "would like to achieve win-win outcomes" for the two countries.
After the meeting Abe and Li signed a raft of agreements covering a wide range of initiatives, from easing maritime tensions to cooperation in energy, infrastructure development and technology