Japan PM Suga and China's Xi agree to pursue high-level contacts in first talks

TOKYO (REUTERS) – Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Friday (Sept 25) he had agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping in their first talks to pursue high-level contacts in a bid to promote regional and international stability.

“Stable relations are important not just for our countries but for the region and the international community. I want to fulfil that responsibility,” Suga said in comments aired by public broadcaster NHK after he spoke with Xi on the telephone.

Suga, who became prime minister this month and has little diplomatic experience, must manage relations with Japan’s bigger neighbour as tension between China and the United States increases amid the coronavirus pandemic and lingering trade friction. Suga spoke on the phone to US President Donald Trump on Sunday (Sept 20).

Japan, a close US ally, is also embroiled in a dispute with China over the ownership of islands in the East China Sea, and is concerned about an uptick in Chinese military activity in the region.

A planned state visit by Xi to Japan earlier this year was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Suga said he did not discuss rescheduling the visit during the call with Xi.

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