Japan PM begins Europe-Russia tour

Tokyo, May 1 (IANS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday began a week-long trip to several European countries and Russia.

Abe will meet with the leaders of Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and Britain before flying to Russia to hold a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, EFE news reported.

With his European counterparts, Abe is expected to discuss the impact of the Chinese slowdown on the global economy.

He will also debate comprehensive measures to combat terrorism and urge G7 member states to firmly condemn the latest weapons testing by North Korea.

During his Belgium visit, Abe will also meet representatives of the European Union (EU), including European Council President Donald Tusk, with whom he is expected to discuss the need to step up negotiations for a future free trade agreement between Japan and the 28 EU member nations.

Before returning to Tokyo, the Japanese head of state will make a stop at Sochi, Russia, to meet President Putin and to find a way around the territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands (called Northern Territories by Japan), administered by Moscow but claimed by Tokyo.

The meeting is also likely to clear the road for Putin’s visit to Japan, after Ukraine-related tensions forced him to cancel his planned trip to the Asian country in 2014.

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