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Japan's Abe Offers Again to Meet China's Xi

FILE - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wants to improve relations with China, South Korea and Russia, while acknowledging difficulties facing ties with his country's Asia-Pacific neighbors.

He also renewed his call to hold a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping that has been delayed because of strained bilateral relations.

Speaking to reporters late Thursday in New York, Prime Minister Abe said it would be beneficial if he and Xi could meet in November at a regional summit in Beijing. He said "quiet efforts" on both sides could help make this possible.

The news conference was broadcast live in Tokyo.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Japan must work to “remove obstacles” in their relationship.

“We hope that the Japanese side can show sincerity and take concrete actions to improve bilateral ties,” she said at a daily briefing.

Requests denied

Since taking power in December 2012, Abe has not met with Xi, despite multiple requests by the Japanese leader.

Japan-China ties have suffered because of a territorial dispute, as well as Abe's honoring of World War II-era Japanese war criminals.

Last year, Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine, which honors Japanese war dead, including several convicted war criminals.

China was one of the main victims of Japanese imperialism. It treats such visits as an insult and a rejection of Japan's past misdeeds.

Airplanes and ships from the two countries have also faced off in the East China Sea, where both nations claim a series of uninhabited islands.

Abe has met Russian President Vladimir Putin five times, but ties have recently been strained as Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea region and pro-Russian rebels fought Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine.

Some material for this report came from Reuters.

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