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China, Japan make friends at Apec summit

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Reuters/Jim Young

Leaders of China and Japan pledged to improve relations Saturday during their first talks since a territorial dispute erupted two months ago.


Japan said that Prime Minister Naoto Kan stood by his country's "firm stance" on the East China Sea islands at the centre of the feud in a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the Apec Pacific Rim summit.

China's Foreign Ministry said that Hu believed the two countries should "follow a road of peace, friendship and cooperation".

He noted that the two nations are each other's main trading partner, and said they should deepen cooperation "to jointly contribute to Asia's revitalisation and address global challenges".

Japan's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama also said the two sides made significant headway in the meeting.

"We think we took a big step forward in progress in Japan-China relations," he said.

The 21 countries meeting at the Apec summit in the Japanese city of Yokohama say they want a discussion on increasing free trade in the region to dominate the meeting.

But the China-Japan spat has so far stolen the headlines.