Japanese PM to discuss North Korea, economic ties during rare Cuba trip
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will seek Cuba's help in responding
to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs during a rare visit to
Havana next week, a spokesman said, and also hopes to expand Japanese
business interests on the island.
Abe will become the first Japanese leader to visit Communist-ruled Cuba,
which is one of North Korea's few diplomatic allies and is also slowly
re-emerging after decades of international isolation and a U.S. trade
His trip follows the normalization of ties last year between Cuba and
the United States, former Cold War enemies, and U.S. President Barack
Obama's visit to Cuba earlier this year.
Japan, South Korea and the United States have been strengthening their
alliance since last week's nuclear test by North Korea, its fifth and
largest, which alarmed its East Asian neighbors.
"We would like to seek Cuba's understanding and cooperation for the
resolution of North Korea-related issues such as abduction (of Japanese
citizens), nuclear and missiles," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga
told a regular news conference on Wednesday.
The United States has called for a swift and strong United Nations
response to Pyongyang, while its envoy on North Korea has said
Washington remained open to meaningful dialogue with the North to end
its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Japan is also keen to build business ties with Cuba, which began
normalizing relations with the United States in December 2014, before
full diplomatic ties were restored.
More than 100 U.S. business delegations have visited Cuba since 2014,
although many U.S. companies say the decades-old trade embargo makes
business almost impossible.
"We aim to support Japanese companies' expansion there by encouraging
Cuba, which has attracted global attention since the resumption of
diplomatic ties with the United States last year, to improve its
business and investment environment," Suga said.
Last week, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported that Abe had decided to
forgive two-thirds of Cuba's 180-billion-yen ($1.75-billion) debt to
Japan, as Tokyo seeks to build closer economic ties.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will also visit Cuba, on a trip from Sunday
until Sept. 28 that includes the United Nations General Assembly and
Canada, but China's foreign ministry has not unveiled the Cuba visit dates.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Cuba in 2014, signing several
investment deals between the two Communist-led countries.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Additional reporting by Michael Martina
in Beijing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Paul Tait)
Source: Japanese PM to discuss North Korea, economic ties during rare
Cuba trip | Reuters -