Japan, China eyeing Kishida-Xi meeting in mid-November -Sankei

TOKYO (Reuters) -The Japanese and Chinese governments have started planning a meeting between Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and China's President Xi Jinping for mid-November, the Sankei newspaper reported on Friday.

The meeting would be held alongside an international conference set to take place in Southeast Asia, the Sankei said, citing multiple government sources.

The latest in-person China-Japan summit was in 2019, when Xi met with then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Beijing. Xi was set to visit Japan in 2020 as a state guest, but the trip was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a regular news conference that nothing has been decided on a summit meeting with China but that it is important to maintain dialogue at various levels.

"Through both governments' endeavours, we aim to build constructive and stable ties with China, in which dialogue is firmly maintained and cooperation takes place on matters of common challenges," Matsuno said.

The Xi-Kishida meeting would be on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of 20 big economies in Indonesia on Nov. 15-16, or at a meeting between leaders of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries on Nov. 18-19 in Bangkok, Sankei said.

Sino-Japanese ties have long been plagued by a dispute over a group of tiny uninhabited East China Sea islets, a legacy of Japan's World War Two aggression and regional rivalry.

Bilateral ties were strained further after China fired ballistic missiles into waters near Japan as part of a military exercise Beijing launched following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in August.

Arrangements are being made for trilateral meetings between Kishida, United States President Joe Biden, and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in mid-November as well, news agency Jiji reported, amid heightening tensions in the Korean peninsula over North Korea's repeated missile launches.

A summit between Kishida and Yoon is also in the works, the Nikkei newspaper said.

(Reporting by Daniel Leussink, Mariko Katsumura and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Tom Hogue, William Mallard and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)