US President Joe Biden and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday (local time) reiterated their calls for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
The meeting between Biden and Suga is their first face-to-face meeting since the US President took office in January.
According to a joint leaders' statement posted on the White House website, the two leaders exchanged views on the impact of China's actions on peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the world, and shared their concerns over Chinese activities that are inconsistent with the international rules-based order, including the use of economic and other forms of coercion.
"We will continue to work with each other based on universal values and common principles. We also recognize the importance of deterrence to maintain peace and stability in the region. We oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea," the joint leaders' statement read.
The two leaders also reiterated their objections to China's unlawful maritime claims and activities in the South China Sea and reaffirmed our strong shared interest in a free and open South China Sea governed by international law, in which freedom of navigation and overflight are guaranteed, consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
"We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues. We share serious concerns regarding the human rights situations in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region," the leaders' joint statement read.
"Together, we will continue to work with allies and partners, including with Australia and India through the Quad, which has never been stronger, to build the free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific we all seek. We support ASEAN's unity and centrality in the Indo-Pacific, as well as the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific," it added.
The leaders' statement also stated that Washington and Tokyo will "support a transparent and independent evaluation and analysis, free from interference and undue influence" of the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak and for investigating outbreaks of unknown origin in the future.
"Our governments will continue to meet at all levels, including to coordinate and implement our policies toward realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific. Above all, we renew our investment in the very idea of steadfast alliances - knowing that our partnership will make security and prosperity possible for both our peoples for decades to come," the statement read.
The US also extended its support towards Japan for holding a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. Both leaders expressed their pride in the US and Japanese athletes who have trained for these Games and will be competing in the best traditions of the Olympic spirit.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing's concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.
Beijing's rising assertiveness against counter claimants in the East and South Sea has resulted in unprecedented agreement across the Indo-Pacific.
( With inputs from ANI )
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