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(2nd LD) China, Japan hold FM talks to improve strained ties

All News 19:45 April 30, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS meetings with Chinese premier, state councilor in paras 7-9)

BEIJING, April 30 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministers of China and Japan held bilateral talks in Beijing on Saturday with the aim of improving ties strained by territorial and historical disputes.

Meeting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing is willing to develop a "healthy and stable" relationship with Tokyo, according to a statement released by China's foreign ministry.

But Wang told Kishida that China would judge Japan's hope to improve relations with China by its actions, not its words.

Japan's Kyodo news agency, citing Tokyo's foreign ministry, reported that the foreign ministers expressed "serious concern" about North Korea's provocations.

North Korea was slapped with tougher U.N. sanctions following its fourth nuclear test in January and launch of a long-range rocket in February.

However, Pyongyang has remained defiant of the U.N. sanctions and threatened to conduct more nuclear tests and ballistic missile tests.

Kishida also met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi after talks with Wang.

Yang told Kishida that the "current momentum of the improving China-Japan relations remains generally fragile and complex," according to a separate statement released by China's foreign ministry.

Yang also called for Kishida to take "concrete actions" to improve ties, according to the statement.

Diplomatic relations between China and Japan have never been good because of their shared history and a bitter dispute over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

It was the first time in more than four years that a Japanese foreign minister visited Beijing for bilateral talks.

In signs of thawing ties, Chinese President Xi Jinping met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo on the sidelines of multilateral gatherings over the past two years.

But China has recently criticized Japan for stepping up its criticism against Beijing's increasingly assertive behavior in the South China Sea.

China, which claims sovereignty over nearly 90 percent of the South China Sea, has built man-made islands in the disputed body of water, worsening relations with neighbors, such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.


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