China and Japan leaders hold ice-breaker talks at Apec summit

The leaders of China and Japan have met for formal talks after more than two years of tension over a territorial row, Japanese officials say.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit in Beijing.

Relations have been soured by the row over islands in the East China Sea.

The talks are the first between the two leaders since they took office.

The strategically important islands, known as Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan, are controlled by Japan.

Tokyo’s decision to purchase three of them from their private Japanese owner in September 2012 led to an escalation in a dispute that has rumbled quietly for years.

China has also complained about what it sees as Japan’s failure to adequately acknowledge its war-time actions.

The meeting came with leaders from the 21 Apec member-nations in the Chinese capital for two days of talks.

Bilateral meetings between top leaders will take place on Monday, followed by a formal leaders’ summit on Tuesday.

The meeting comes as China looks to underline its growing status as regional leader and economic giant.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit is the biggest event hosted so far by Mr Xi, who took over the Chinese presidency in March 2013.

Both US President Barack Obama and Russia leader Vladimir Putin will deliver speeches later in the day.