China urges Japan to foster normal relations

Beijing, Jan 30 (IANS) China Wednesday urged Japan to create conditions for the normal development of bilateral relations, saying the two sides should "properly handle tensions" over the sovereignty of the disputed Diaoyu islands.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had Tuesday suggested that a summit between Japan and China was necessary to mend bilateral relations hampered by recent territorial disputes, Xinhua reported.

Hong said China attaches importance to developing relations with Japan, and stressed that Beijing hopes that Tokyo will make joint efforts to overcome major difficulties so as to push bilateral ties back to the track of normal development.

The spokesman said that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi Tuesday met Tomiichi Murayama, former Japanese prime minister and honorary advisor to the Japan-China Friendship Association, and the group's chief Koichi Kato in Beijing.

Yang said peace, friendship and cooperation between China and Japan were in the fundamental interests of the two countries.

He said that at this critical juncture for China-Japan relations, the two sides should properly handle tensions over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu islands on the basis of political documents signed by the two countries.

Earlier this week, China urged Japan to stick to the path of peaceful development after Tokyo announced it will increase the country's defence budget.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said the yearly defence budget will be expanded by 40 billion yen ($440 million), starting from April.

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