• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Francois Hollande shared concern Sunday over China’s reclamation projects in disputed areas of the South China Sea also claimed by other countries, a Japanese official said.

On the fighting in Ukraine, Abe and Hollande agreed it is important for all countries concerned, including Russia, to implement a cease-fire agreement to halt fighting between government forces and pro-Russia rebels, according to the official.

The Japanese and French leaders met on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Schloss Elmau, south of Munich. The other G-7 members are Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy and the United States.

Abe told Hollande that China has been pushing ahead with reclamation “at a rapid pace” in the area, the official said. China has built artificial islands and facilities on them in disputed parts of the sea, provoking other claimants including the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations.

Japan believes it important to be united with the other G-7 countries in dealing with the Ukraine crisis, Abe was quoted as telling Hollande in an apparent reference to economic sanctions imposed over Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula last year.

Abe also told Hollande he sees the need for Japan to hold dialogue with Russia’s leaders to settle the long-running sovereignty dispute over four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.

The former Soviet Union seized the isles in the closing days of World War II, and disputes over the issue have prevented Tokyo and Moscow from signing a peace treaty to formally end the war.

Hollande said he completely understood Abe’s position on the bilateral dispute, according to the official.

Abe and Hollande were committed to cooperating toward the so-called COP21 conference on climate change that France will host later this year, according to the official.