Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell agreed Wednesday on the need for diplomatic efforts to stop the escalating violence in Iraq.

"We both expressed our concern over the situation in Iraq," Powell told reporters after a meeting with Abe at the prime minister's office.

"We are hopeful that some solution can be found, or at least the offensive can be stopped and checked so that diplomatic procedures can start to be used to solve this problem," he said.

A lightning-fast military offensive by an al-Qaida splinter group has seen a large swath of territory fall under its control in recent days.

Powell said he also discussed with Abe the issue of collective self-defense, and the Senkaku Islands, which are controlled by Japan but claimed by China, where they are called Diaoyu.

Abe is attempting to change the official interpretation of the Constitution to enable the Self-Defense Forces to come to the aid of Japan's allies under armed attack by exercising the right to collective self-defense.

"We also talked about U.S.-Japan relations which I think are in a very, very good position right now," Powell said. "We have achieved so much together as friends and allies for the last 70 years, so I know that will continue into the future."