Suga, Xi pledge to strengthen ties

Tokyo, Sep 25 (efe-epa).- Japan’s new prime minister Yoshilde Suga on Friday held his first telephone call with Chinese president Xi Jinping since taking office and the pair pledged to improve bilateral relations.

Suga and Xi said they were committed to working together to solve regional and international affairs, according to a spokesman for the Japanese government after the conversation between the world’s third and second-largest economies.

The spokesman said Suga told Xi that he considered bilateral relations to be “extremely important” while Xi said he wanted to help improve relations with neighboring countries in the region.

Another government source told Kyodo news agency that Suga expressed his concern over frequent territorial incursions by China near the remote Senkaku islands (referred to as Diaoyutai by China), which Beijing claims sovereignty over.

The Japanese government said Suga and Xi did not discuss a date for Xi to visit Japan, something he had been due to do in spring only for the event to be called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

After taking office last week, Suga said one his foreign policy priorities was to make the Indo-Pacific region “free and open,” an ambiguous term coined by his predecessor Shinzo Abe, who used it as a way to subtly state his position against China’s expanding influence in the region.

Suga took over the helm of the Japanese government on 16 September after Abe stepped down for health reasons.

Soon after he was voted in, Suga held a conversation with United States president, Donald Trump, one of Japan’s principal partners in the region and one with a prolonged trade dispute with Beijing.

Suga has also held conversations with Russian president Vladimir Putin and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in. EFE-EPA


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