Vice Presidengt's Japan visit 'full of hope'

08:44, December 14, 2009      

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Vice-President Xi Jinping expressed hopes for deeper ties with Japan before kicking off a visit to the country today that includes a specially arranged meeting with the Japanese emperor.

"We would like to further develop our friendly, neighborly cooperative ties," Xi told reporters during a joint interview with international media at the Great Hall of the People on Saturday.

The vice-president will pay an official visit to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Cambodia and Myanmar beginning today until next Tuesday.

This is Xi's first interview with foreign media since taking his current position in March 2008, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

During the interview, Xi also welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's proposal for an East Asian community bound by deeper trade and economic links.

"It is a systematic project to construct such a community, which should be based on reality while taking a long-term view," Xi said in a press release. "The most important thing to do at present is to strengthen dialogue and negotiation between countries so as to form a consensus."

Though Xi on Saturday did not comment on a planned meeting with Japanese Emperor Akihito, which stirred controversy in the country, Kyodo news agency said he thanked the governments involved in the visits for their considerate arrangements.

Japan has strictly followed a rule for almost one decade that any meeting with the emperor by a visiting foreign dignitary should be scheduled at least a month in advance.

But the head of the Imperial Household Agency said on the weekend that the request from China for such a meeting came on Nov 26. At first, the agency declined the request but later was persuaded by the government to accept.
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