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Abe off to Bali for APEC, TPP meetings

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left for Indonesia on Sunday to join key defense and trade meetings with Asia-Pacific leaders, where cooperation on creating free trade areas will top the agenda.

Abe departed Kansai International Airport after attending a conference in Kyoto. He will later visit Brunei to attend a series of meetings hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Abe told reporters before leaving for Indonesia that he wants to “make a proactive contribution so that (TPP) negotiations progress in a favorable direction for their year-end conclusion.”

The prime minister added that, if circumstances permit, he hopes to exchange views with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts during the Southeast Asian conferences to mend Japan’s soured ties with its two neighbors, repeating that the doors are open for dialogue.

During his trip to Southeast Asia, Abe will hold bilateral talks with other leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, although it remains to be seen whether will meet his Chinese and South Korean counterparts amid bitter historical and territorial issues.

He will then attend the summit on Monday and Tuesday of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bali, Indonesia, and participate in leaders’ talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which involves 12 countries including Japan, the United States and Australia.

Abe will meet with Putin in Bali, apparently to make progress on a bilateral territorial dispute that has prevented Japan and Russia from signing a peace treaty to end World War II.

He will also deliver a speech at a conference on the Indonesian resort island about his “Abenomics” plan to end chronic deflation in Japan and his recent decision to raise the consumption tax.