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May 24, 2017

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Abe suggests summit with China as Xi says no sovereignty compromise

BEIJING/TOKYO--Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday suggested a summit with China would improve a relationship that has been badly troubled for months.

The latest sign of a possible thaw came the day Japan's cabinet approved a rise in defense spending for the first time in over a decade, explicitly aimed at beefing up defense of a contested island chain.

It also came as Japan's already well-equipped coastguard said it was creating a special unit with 10 new large patrol boats and a 600-strong force to oversee the East China Sea archipelago.

"A high-level meeting should be held because there is a problem. If necessary, there might be a need to build the ... relationship again, starting with a summit meeting," Abe told Nippon Television.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping says he won't permit the country's sovereignty, security or development to suffer damage. His comments are part of a foreign policy address amid ongoing territorial disputes with Japan and other neighboring states.

Xi told members of the ruling Communist Party's Politburo on Tuesday that China would stick to its policy of peaceful development but would never sacrifice its legitimate rights or core interests. Foreign nations shouldn't expect China to compromise or cut deals in ways that would sacrifice its national interests.

Xi's comments reflect observers' views that he would take a relatively tough stand in foreign affairs in keeping with China's recent assertiveness over its territorial claims.

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