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Leaders of China and Japan meet despite tensions

Japanese Prime Minister Abe and Chinese President Xi have met at a summit in Jakarta, signaling a possible diplomatic thaw. Beijing and Tokyo have been feuding over territorial disputes and the legacy of WWII.

The leaders of the two Asian nations agreed to contribute to regional stability by promoting "mutually beneficial strategic ties," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters in Jakarta after a 30-minute meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday.

In addition, Abe told Xi that Japan would take the path of peace and development, according to Chinese state media.

The meeting on the sidelines of an Africa-Asia summit was only the second time the two politicians met since taking office, and it was held despite unusually high tensions between the two countries.

While the relationship between the two largest economies in Asia is traditionally cool, recent disputes over islands in the East China Sea and sparks over

Japan's actions during World War II

caused it to plunge to its lowest level in decades.

In his speech just before the meet, Abe provoked fresh criticism by not apologizing for Japan's wartime past.

Abe also made a veiled reference to China, warning against powerful nations imposing to the weak.

'Facing' to history

Although Abe expressed "deep remorse" over the past, his failure to offer a customary apology in his Jakarta speech drew rebuke from South Korea, whose population paid heavily for Japanese military aggression, alongside China.

In addition, Xi was quoted by state-run China National Radio as telling Abe that he "hopes the Japanese side takes seriously the concerns of its Asian neighbors and issues a positive message of facing squarely up to history."

Earlier in the week, Abe angered the neighboring countries by sending religious offerings to a

controversial war shine

, which commemorates Japan's war dead - including 14 war criminals.

Abe is often described as an ardent nationalist, and it remains unclear whether he will follow in his predecessor's footsteps and apologize for his country's past in the key speech marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, which is due later this year.

dj/sms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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