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China’s top diplomat wants ‘heart-to-heart chat’ with Japanese envoy to solve problems between the two countries

A top Chinese diplomat said he wants to “solve various problems” with Japan at a meeting on Thursday to pave the way for leaders of both nations to meet next month.

The meeting between State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Shotaro Yachi was held after foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea ended trilateral talks in Tokyo on Wednesday. China and Japan vowed on the sidelines of the talks to ease tensions and make efforts to resolve their maritime disputes.

“To improve China-Japan relations, I would like to have heart-to-heart discussions with you,” Yang told Yachi at the outset of their meeting in Beijing. Yachi was to meet with Premier Li Keqiang later in the day.

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His three-day visit through Friday comes as the two countries try to create momentum for Abe and Xi to meet on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of 20 leading economies in Hangzhou in early September.

China is locked in territorial disputes with Japan over a group of islands in the East China Sea – called the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China.

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The two nations had heated exchanges in recent weeks after China sent more than 200 government and fishing vessels into waters near the islands.

In a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the meeting in Tokyo, held when the three countries were experiencing “difficulties in their relations”, maintained the foundation and momentum for their cooperation, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Additional reporting by Kyodo