Japan plans four-party Middle East peace talks

Kyodo News

Japan is looking to host a four-way Cabinet-level meeting with Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan in Tokyo on March 14 to help build mutual trust in the region and bring peace to the Palestinian territories, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Tuesday.

It would be the first meeting to launch the Concept for Creating the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity, a project put forward in July by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during a visit to the region.

“I hope this four-way meeting will provide an opportunity for dialogue and contribute to the building of mutual trust between the Palestinians and Israelis,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

Speculation is rising in Tokyo that Abe will visit the Middle East in addition to the United States in May.

Under the peace corridor concept, Japan would pledge assistance for sustainable development of the regional economy, including project development of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, according to government sources.

On the sidelines of the four-way meeting, Tokyo also plans to host the Third Conference for Confidence-Building between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Shiozaki said.

The conference was first held in May 2003, followed by another in July 2004.