Japan, China agree to mutual official visits by Abe, Xi

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Wang said the visit was a response to Japan's positive attitude toward China.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has begun a visit to Japan - described as a major step forward in improving frosty relations, as Tokyo tries to stay involved in a flurry of global diplomacy over North Korea, a report in the South China Morning Post said on Sunday.

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While ties between Tokyo and Beijing have a troubled history, relations seem to have strengthened following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's diplomatic visit in January. So this week, Japan will have to walk a fine line, balancing often tense relations with its biggest trading partner against the demands of its second-largest trading partner, who is also its military ally and guarantor of its security.

The Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue was being held Monday in Tokyo for the first time since August 2010. The dispute over islands in the East China Sea - known as the "Senkakus" in Japanese and the "Diaoyu" by the Chinese - remains a source of tension.

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But Tokyo is eager to get the relationship back on a firmer footing, especially as it fears being shut out of negotiations on North Korea's nuclear programme in which Beijing is likely to be a major player.

The talks came ahead of a summit between the two Koreas this month and a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jon Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

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"Since previous year, Japan has, in relations with China, displayed a positive message and friendly attitude", Wang said at the meeting, adding that he hoped that the visit would help the two countries move towards better ties.

Even before he was elected, Trump had criticized both Chinese and Japanese trade and economic policy as unfair and damaging to the U.S. Recently, he has threatened tariffs on Chinese exports and limits on investment, and just last week took a shot at Japan, saying the nation "has hit us hard on trade for years!" He and Kono discussed a broad range of issues, including North Korea, Kono on Sunday night.

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The two sides reportedly agreed to continue to fully implement all relevant United Nations resolutions and to work together closely in order to realize the dismantlement of the North's nuclear weapons and missiles.

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