Abe plans to meet with senior U.S. senator over China

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to meet on Thursday with the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss Japan-U.S. cooperation in dealing with China, diplomatic sources said Monday.

Robert Menendez will visit Japan from Tuesday amid a territorial row between Tokyo and Beijing. The Democrat is also expected to meet with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida during his trip.

Tokyo and Beijing are involved in row over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea that are claimed by Beijing, which calls them Diaoyu. Menendez played a role last month in the Senate's adoption of a resolution criticizing China's behavior in the East and South China Seas.

Abe is likely to brief Menendez on Japan's policies regarding China, which the prime minister has said is a crucial partner in maintaining regional peace and security amid the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs. Abe has said Tokyo is always open to dialogue with Beijing.

The sources also said John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 and a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, is also considering visiting Tokyo and Okinawa later this month.