The Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi (L) shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan. (EPA photo)

TOKYO, Japan: Asian rivals China and Japan on Monday pledged a “new starting point” for bilateral ties, vowing close co-operation amid a flurry of diplomacy on the North Korean missile threat and global trade tensions.

Welcoming Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for a rare three-day visit, Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe called for warmer relations between the two countries and said they should work together on North Korea.

Abe said he would be visiting the United States for talks with President Donald Trump to seek the “complete and irreversible denuclearisation” of North Korea and added “we want to co-operate with China.”

“We hope to develop a strategic, mutually beneficial Japan-China relationship in various fields,” said Abe.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) and Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono. (Reuters photo)

Wang had earlier told his Japanese counterpart at a meeting in Tokyo: “With both of us standing on a new starting point, I hope we will promote the further development of both nations by opening a new future of bilateral cooperation.”

Relations between the pair are entering an “important phase of improvement and growth,” Wang added.

Tokyo is battling to stay relevant amid a string of summits on North Korea’s nuclear programme in which Beijing is likely to be a major player.

With this in mind, Japan is pushing to host a trilateral meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Delegates from Japan (R) and China (L) speak during a high-level Japan-China economic dialogue in Tokyo, Japan. (EPA photo)L

Abe said this would be held “after Golden Week“, a series of national holidays that ends on May 6.

Bilateral visits by Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping are also being planned.

China demonstrated its significant influence over its reclusive ally when Xi hosted the North’s leader Kim Jong-un and his wife in Beijing last month.

With Moon and Trump also preparing to meet Kim, reported efforts by Japan to reach out to Pyongyang have gone ignored.

Meanwhile, Japan and China are targets of Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs, with Beijing also targeted with a further heavy levy.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Wang did not specifically mention the proposed US trade policies, as its implementation and consequences were still unclear.

(Front row: L-R) Cheng Yonghua, China's ambassador to Japan, Zhang Yong, vice director of the National Development and Reform Commission, Zhong Shan, China's commerce minister, Liu Kun, China's finance minister, Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, Taro Kono, Japan's foreign minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's economic revitalization minister, Hiroshige Seko, Japan's economy, trade and industry minister, Keiichi Ishii, Japan's land, infrastructure, transport and tourism minster, and Takao Ochi, Japan's parliamentary vice-minister of Cabinet Office, pose during a photo session ahead of a high-level Japan-China economic dialogue. (Reuters photo)

But they noted the global economy has dramatically changed during the eight years the bilateral dialogue has stalled.

“We must have fresh perspectives and think about ways of cooperation and coordination,” said Kono.

“We share the common understanding that starting of a trade war would have a significant impact on the prosperity of the global economy.” -- AFP

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