Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday (20 November) for impromptu talks, where they agreed to improve bilateral ties between the nations. Both the leaders were in Peru's capital of Lima to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, where they met for around ten minutes.

The meeting comes ahead of the 45th anniversary of the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as well as the 40th anniversary of the Japan-China peace and friendship treaty in 2018, Japan's deputy chief cabinet secretary Kotaro Nogami said.

The brief talks took place at the request of Japan, Nogami said.

Abe is also said to have invited Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Tokyo to hold a trilateral summit along with South Korea later in 2016. But Xi gave no clear indication whether Li will be able to attend the summit.

"I want to improve bilateral ties across the board and forge a stable and good relationship by resolving issues in an appropriate manner and from a comprehensive viewpoint," Abe was quoted as saying by the Japan Times.

Abe is reported to have also said that a trilateral meeting with the Chinese and South Korean leaders would be the first opportunity for Li to visit Japan as premier. He "hoped it would be a fruitful visit in the context of bilateral relations (with China)".

Responding to Abe's request, Xi said he was "impressed with the prime minister's words. It is important to settle issues properly and increase popular sentiment toward improving ties."

Relations between China and Japan have long been marred by a territorial clash related to Beijing claiming authority over Japan-controlled Senkaku islets in the East China Sea.

The meeting between the two leaders took place amid growing uncertainty about whether South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is facing calls to step down due to a high profile political scandal, can visit Japan for a summit the three countries had agreed upon earlier.

Abe and Xi, who last met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in early September, distanced themselves from topics related to US President-elect Donald Trump and North Korea's nuclear arms programme, Nogami said.