BEIJING – China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday said he had “not heard” that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would visit China in September, state television reported, dismissing speculation of a summit meeting of the two leaders that month.
Last month, China’s top diplomat told the head of Japan’s National Security Council that China was preparing for “high-level political dialogue” with Japan, stoking hopes of a leaders’ meeting.
Sino-Japanese ties, long bedevilled by a dispute over islands in the East China Sea and China’s memories of Japan’s wartime aggression, have improved since Abe met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in November.
The two met for a second mini-summit in April at an Asia-Africa leaders’ gathering in Jakarta and Japan wants to pursue the thaw, while ensuring China realizes the risks of an increasingly assertive maritime military policy.
But Foreign Minister Wang was quoted by state broadcaster CCTV as saying: “I’ve never heard of this matter of Abe visiting China in September. This matter is not on the agenda.”
Japanese government sources have said another Xi-Abe meeting could well take place this year, although some said China probably first wants to see a planned statement by Abe marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.
A successful summit with Xi could bolster Abe’s support at home, which has sagged over doubts about his security policy.
Separately, Wang also said U.S. President Barack Obama has not confirmed his attendance at a parade in Beijing to commemorate the end of World War II.
“Firstly, the Sept. 3 event is China’s own event. Of course we welcome foreign friends to participate,” especially China’s allies at the time, he said.
Wang added that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had offered “full support and understanding” for China’s decision to hold events related to the end of the war.
China has been coy about which countries it plans to invite to the September parade, but has said it was likely to invite representatives from the Western Allies who fought with China during the war.
Diplomats have told Reuters Xi could be left standing on the stage with few top Western officials, due to Western governments’ concerns over a range of issues, including the expected presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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