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May 29, 2017

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PM Noda rules out meetings with Beijing, Seoul at APEC

TOKYO -- Japan will not hold summit talks with either China or South Korea on the sidelines of an upcoming Asia-Pacific meeting, the prime minister said Friday, amid rows over disputed islands.

However, Yoshihiko Noda said he would not rule out informal talks with leaders of the two nations at this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vladivostok on Saturday and Sunday.

"At this point there is no formal summit with South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak or China's President Hu Jintao," he told a press conference.

"But if there is an opportunity, for example a conversation in passing, I would like to tell them Japan's position," Noda said.

Relations with China and South Korea have been derailed by rows over two sets of disputed islands.

During his stay, Noda is to meet formally with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as the leaders of Russia, Singapore and Australia, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said.

Japan is also embroiled in a spat with Moscow over disputed islands off its far north.

"President (Vladimir) Putin has scheduled an especially long time in (bilateral) talks with Prime Minister Noda (compared with other bilateral summits)," Gemba told reporters Friday.

"On the territorial issue, Prime Minister Noda will likely tell him 'it's important to pay attention to public sentiment and to build mutual trust.'"

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