Japan's prime minister says UAE is 'pivotal' to peace in Middle East

Shinzo Abe spoke of his concerns over tensions in the region during official visit to the Emirates

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Japan's prime minister hailed the UAE for playing a "pivotal role" in the pursuit of peace across the Middle East during his official visit to the country.

Shinzo Abe highlighted the UAE's efforts to safeguard regional stability during talks with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Mr Abe expressed concern over recent tensions in the region amid his country's decision to send a navy fleet to Middle East waters to ensure safety of navigation.

The UAE plays a key and pivotal role in pursuing sustainable development, peace and stability in the Middle East

The Japanese leader spoke of his desire to strengthen links with the UAE after the meeting with Sheikh Mohamed at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

"This is the fourth time I have visited the UAE and met with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed. The UAE plays a key and pivotal role in pursuing sustainable development, peace and stability in the Middle East," Mr Abe said.

The prime minister said 2020 is set to be a historic year for both nations, as the UAE gears up for Expo 2020 Dubai and Japan prepares to welcome the world for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Sheikh Mohamed stressed the importance of the deep ties between the UAE and Japan and highlighted the progress made in partnerships in areas such as trade, technology, education and the space sector.

The growing friendship between the nations was exemplified by the launch of the UAE's KhalifaSat satellite from Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan in October, 2018.

The two countries are also aiming to work more closely in the education field, with plans mooted for Japanese language courses in UAE schools.

Last August, the new Japanese ambassador to the UAE, Akihiko Nakajima, said talks were under way over the initiative.

"To both countries, education is one of the most important policy pillars for our prosperous future, and I firmly believe that we can contribute to each other in this area," Mr Nakajima told state news agency, Wam.

Sheikh Mohamed pointed out the rich history of UAE-Japan relations, with Japan being one of the first countries to establish diplomatic links with the UAE after its formation in 1971.

A visit by the UAE's Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, to Japan in 1990 was also instrumental in helping to cement a friendship spanning from the Middle East to the Far East.

"Your visit to the UAE in 2018 was a strong boost to our relations, especially as it resulted in an agreement to develop our co-operation through a comprehensive strategic partnership initiative," Sheikh Mohamed told Mr Abe.

"The UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is keen to enhance and activate this strategic partnership."

Sheikh Mohamed said the UAE and Japan share an ethos of tolerance, coexistence and dialogue and reject extremism, terrorism, hatred and racism.

Sheikh Mohamed stated that the Arab Gulf and Middle East regions face delicate and complex situations which need to be dealt with wisely, to maintain security and stability in the region.

He said interference by certain regional powers in the internal affairs of Arab countries is a dangerous source of tension, conflict, and instability.

Sheikh Mohamed outlined his support for Japan's position on sending navy forces to the Middle East with the aim of securing its ships and protecting its oil supplies.

The Japanese Prime Minister wrote a note on the VIP Book at Al Watan Palace, expressing his happiness in visiting the country.

Sheikh Mohamed hosted a dinner banquet in honour of the Japanese Prime Minister and his accompanying delegation.

Sheikh Mohamed and Mr Abe witnessed the signing of an energy co-operation agreement between Supreme Petroleum Council, represented by Adnoc, and Japan's Agency for Natural Resources and Energy during the meeting.

Mr Abe's visit to the UAE was part of a wider tour of the Gulf. He visited Saudi Arabia earlier this week and left Abu Dhabi for Muscat, Oman, on Tuesday.