Japanese PM to make two-day visit to Israel, West Bank
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Japanese PM to make two-day visit to Israel, West Bank

On regional tour of Middle East, Shinzo Abe tells journalists the Israel-Palestinian peace process is a priority

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, waves with his wife Akie Abe while boarding his plane before departure for the Middle East, at Haneda international airport in Tokyo April 29, 2018. (Yukie Nishizawa/Kyodo News via AP)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, waves with his wife Akie Abe while boarding his plane before departure for the Middle East, at Haneda international airport in Tokyo April 29, 2018. (Yukie Nishizawa/Kyodo News via AP)

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to visit to Israel on Tuesday for two days as part of a regional tour including UAE, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority.

Before leaving Japan, Abe told journalists Middle East peace was a priority on his trip.

“I intend to work for the Middle East peace process by engaging with both Israel and Palestine in a constructive manner,” Abe said, according to the Kyodo news agency.

The Calcalist news site reported that Abe would be accompanied by a large business delegation, including executives from the Mitsubishi corporation, who would be exploring economic opportunities in Israel.

Although Japan has never played an influential role in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, in December, Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono reportedly invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to a four-way peace summit in Tokyo that would also include Jared Kushner, who is overseeing US President Donald Trump’s efforts to revive peace talks.

According to Israel’s Channel 10 news, Netanyahu said he was open to attending, but only if the US agreed. “If Kushner is there, I will also be there,” the report quoted Netanyahu as telling Kono.

The TV channel in December said the proposal was first made to Netanyahu by Abe when the two met in New York during the UN General Assembly in September last year. It said Netanyahu told Abe he would only attend if the summit was coordinated with the US, which has traditionally been the arbitrator of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The reports did not say how Abbas responded to Kono’s proposal.

Abe last visited Israel in January 2015.

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