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Japan, China eye closer ties ahead of Xi's state visit next spring

Chinese President Xi Jinping (Kyodo)

NEW YORK (Kyodo) -- Japan and China agreed Thursday to elevate bilateral ties by expanding the scope of their cooperation as the two nations step up preparations for President Xi Jinping's state visit to Japan next spring.

"We will increase exchanges and deepen cooperation further in various fields and lift Japan-China relations to a new level to build a new era for both countries," Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters after meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

The meeting, the first since Motegi became foreign minister in early September, took place on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly.

"We hope to overcome bilateral difficulties and promote sustainable and stable development (of ties) along the right trajectory," Wang told Motegi at the outset of the talks.

Motegi said there are many issues that require close coordination between Japan and China without elaborating.

Bilateral ties have been markedly improving in recent months despite differing views on history and territorial issues. The thaw comes as China is locked in an escalating tariff war with the United States.

Thursday's meeting came a day after Japan and the United States reached an agreement on goods and digital trade. Motegi, who led the bilateral negotiations, discussed the envisaged creation of an Asia-wide trade zone under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership with Wang.

"I said each participating country needs to show flexibility in order for the negotiations to conclude at the earliest possible date," Motegi told reporters. Japan and China are among the 16 nations involved in the negotiations.

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