Japan PM says he's open to talks with China's leader, stresses need for dialogue

Japan's prime minister says he is willing to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help mend ties hurt by an island dispute.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a television talk show Tuesday that high-level talks are more significant in difficult times.

Ties between Japan and China have deteriorated since Tokyo nationalized uninhabited islands in the East China Sea claimed by both. The step triggered violent protests against Japanese businesses in China.

Abe said there is no room to negotiate ownership of the islands, but urged both sides to avoid letting the territorial spat hurt their economic ties.

China has sent surveillance ships regularly to waters near the islands, and aircraft from the two sides have trailed each other, raising the risk of missteps that could trigger a clash.