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Japan, UAE agree to expand cooperation during Abe's visit


AFP Abu Dhabi
Japan and its top trade partner in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates, agreed on Monday to expand economic, political and defence cooperation.
Tokyo and Abu Dhabi also signed an investment protection agreement, capping off a two-day visit by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the oil-rich Gulf state.
Abe arrived late Sunday on the first leg of a Middle East tour which will also take him to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
In a joint statement, the two countries praised growing trade between them. They "stressed the importance of further enhancing trade, investments, and business such as renewable energy, sustainable water desalination ... artificial intelligence, health care and medical equipment," the statement said.
They also reiterated their commitment to diversify joint business ventures in the non-energy sector, and stressed the need to boost defence cooperation.
The UAE is Japan's main trading partner in the Middle East, accounting for about a third of Tokyo's trade in the region.
It is also Japan's second-largest supplier of crude oil, accounting for almost a quarter of its needs and more than half the trade volume between them last year -- USD 28 billion -- was energy-related.
Press secretary of the Japanese foreign ministry Norio Maruyama told reporters in Abu Dhabi the two countries are expected to sign a memorandum of defence cooperation next month.
He also said the agreement for the promotion and protection of investment will likely boost investments by both countries.
Abe held talks with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of UAE armed forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahayan.
On Monday, Abe hailed cooperation with the UAE as a "strategic relationship" and welcomed Abu Dhabi's renewal of oil concessions with Japanese oil firms.
"Over the past five years since I last visited Abu Dhabi, our bilateral relations have made dramatic progress to a relationship that has been called a strategic relationship," he told a UAE-Japan business forum.
Top executives from Japan's leading business groups addressed the forum, highlighting projects underway in the UAE as well as future plans. "On this visit, we are accompanied by 27 companies representing Japan with a delegation of top business leaders," Abe said.

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First Published: Apr 30 2018 | 8:10 PM IST

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