Top Diplomats of China, Japan Agree to Cooperate on N. Korean Issues

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday began a visit to Japan described as a major step forward in improving frosty relations, as Tokyo tries to stay involved in a flurry of worldwide diplomacy over North Korea. China has demonstrated its significant influence over its reclusive ally with Xi hosting Kim and his wife in Beijing.

Shortly after his arrival, Wang will meet his Japanese counterpart with their talks expected to touch on key subjects such as economic relations, territorial disputes in the East China Sea, and ways to push North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, Japanese officials have said.

Wang is the first Chinese foreign minister to visit Japan in a bilateral context in eight years and five months.

Tokyo hopes such a meeting will lead to a long-awaited exchange of state visits between Abe and Xi.

On North Korea, Kono said he and Wang "confirmed that we will work in close coordination, while fully implementing the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, to make the complete, irreversible and verifiable abandonment of North Korea's nuclear and missile (programs) a reality". Now, China has an added incentive to fix ties with Japan, after a series of surprises from Trump on North Korea, Taiwan and trade sanctions.

The visit is also seen as paving the way for a possible trilateral summit next month involving Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korea's Moon.

The long-fraught ties between Tokyo and Beijing deteriorated to a 40-year low after the government's 2012 purchase of disputed islets near Taiwan sparked Chinese demonstrations, damaged trade and even raised fears of a military clash. Kono said he and Wang agreed that their countries need to further develop bilateral relations in order to stabilize the waters.

Wang said any parties, including Japan, welcome the recent important changes on the peninsula.

He said the 2 countries should also put their ties back on the right path of development so that they can open the way for a new future. Japanese officials said the mutual foreign ministers' visits for the objective of bilateral talks are the first between Japan and China in eight years.

Wang, who will be in Tokyo until Tuesday, will also participate in the fourth China-Japan High-level Economic Dialogue. According to Japanese officials, the dialogue is the first in almost eight years.

Wang's trip to meet his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, became the first of its kind in more than eight years.

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