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Leaders of Japan, China Meet

China's President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People, on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, in Beijing, November 10, 2014.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have met for formal talks for the first time since the two leaders took office in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

The discussions took place Monday in Beijing's Great Hall of the People on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

China's Xinhua state news agency said Xi told Abe that China hopes Japan will continue to follow the path of peaceful development and adopt prudent military and security policies.

Abe said his meeting with the Chinese president is the first step in improving relations with China

The two leaders met three days after China and Japan agreed to ramp up dialogue, a move that could represent a breakthrough in long-frosty ties between the world's second and third largest economies.

In a joint statement released Friday, the two sides agreed to "gradually resume political, diplomatic and security dialogue" and "make efforts to build political mutual trust."

The statement did not specify when or at what level the dialogue would occur.

China and Japan also acknowledged having "different opinions" on a territorial dispute in the East China Sea, and agreed to "establish crisis management mechanisms" to help lower tensions.

The deal was reached during a meeting in Beijing between Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Japanese National Security Adviser Shotaro Yachi.

China and Japan have had only low-level diplomatic interaction in recent months, though there have been signs that both sides are open to gradually improving relations.

One of the longstanding obstacles to bilateral ties was Japan's refusal to even acknowledge there is a dispute over the islands, known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu.

It was not immediately clear whether Japan made a concession on the issue in order to secure Friday's agreement. Analysts say judging by the wording of Chinese state media reports, it is not likely Japan compromised.

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