Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sept. 12 in Vladivostok. (Pool)

VLADIVOSTOK--Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to visit China next month took a step forward on Sept. 12 when the leaders of the two countries met for about 40 minutes here.

After the meeting, Abe told reporters that Chinese President Xi Jinping said he would welcome Abe’s visit in October.

“Through visits by the leaders of the two nations, we will push bilateral relations to a new stage and want to construct a foundation for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia,” Abe said.

Officials of the two governments will continue holding talks to arrange Abe’s visit to Beijing, preferably on Oct. 23, which will mark the 40th anniversary of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty.

Abe and Xi held their talks on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum hosted by the Russian government.

Abe and Xi have met a total of seven times, with the last meeting coming in November 2017.

They also discussed issues related to North Korea, including the abduction of Japanese nationals by Pyongyang decades ago.

Abe said Xi agreed with him that realization of North Korea’s denuclearization was a common objective that required close cooperation. The Chinese president also expressed his support for Japan’s position of seeking a quick resolution of the abduction issue.

Xi touched upon the peace and friendship treaty at the start of his meeting with Abe, saying: “Through the common effort made by both sides, China-Japan relations have entered a normal course, and we now face an important opportunity to develop and improve ties. We must continue to make efforts to push forward (bilateral ties)."

Abe referred to his November meeting with Xi as a “very productive one” that served as a new start for Japan-China relations.

“The horizon for cooperation between Japan and China has widened as exchanges and dialogue over a large number of areas have become much more active, including high-level exchanges between the two nations,” Abe said.

In April, the two governments held their first economic dialogue in eight years.

According to Japanese government officials, Abe invited Xi to Japan, and the Chinese president said he would think the matter over carefully.

The broader international environment has also encouraged the two nations to work more closely together.

Japan is hoping that China’s influence over North Korea will contribute to resolving issues related to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development and the abduction issue. Greater economic cooperation with China would also help spur economic growth in Japan.

China is also seeking to use tighter ties with Japan to ward off increasing pressure from the United States on trade.

For his part, Abe is hoping to use any diplomatic results to help his re-election bid as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party as well as the party’s chances in Upper House and unified local elections slated for 2019.