Trump meets Australian, Japanese leaders to talk about China, North Korea

Watch: Japanese PM Shinzo Abe takes a tumble playing round of golf with Trump

According to Japanese officials, Abe will seek to strengthen cooperation between Japan and ASEAN to lead the pursuit of a "free and open" order.

He is likely to seek a consensus on maritime security, including an affirmation that territorial disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved peacefully in line with global law.

The leaders are also expected to unite in condemning North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Abe appealed to Li for China - North Korea's primary diplomatic and economic backer - to play a "more constructive" role, the spokesman said.

A number of ASEAN members have overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea with Beijing, which has been reclaiming land in the waters.

"With ASEAN having become a main actor in the world, in which democracy, the rule of law and market economies have taken root, it is important to extend ASEAN's success to the entire Indo-Pacific region to bring out this region's potential", Abe said at the outset of the talks, open to the press.

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He expressed hope that the two countries will enhance economic dialogues, explore opportunities in inter-connectivity projects within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, expand cooperation in finance, environmental protection, energy conservation, and the third-party market, and promote high-quality cooperation between Japan, China and South Korea as well as speed up the process of RCEP negotiations.

The Philippines and Japan on Monday signed the financing agreement for Metro Manila's first ever subway project aimed at improving the transportation system in the congested Philippine capital.

The countries remain at odds over the Japan-controlled, China-claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by Taiwan.

When President Donald Trump met with his counterparts from Australia and Japan on Monday in Manila, two other countries were on the leaders' minds - China and North Korea.

The Abe administration's push for "high quality" infrastructure investment, particularly in Southeast Asia, hints similarly at trying to present Japan as a balancing agent against China's influence.

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