ISTANBUL – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a reception Monday to mark the opening of a subway line under the Bosporus Strait in Istanbul that was partly financed by Japanese yen loans.
“I hope (the railway) will be a symbol of friendship between Japan and Turkey, and further promote our friendly relationship,” Abe said at the reception attended by Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yildirim.
Abe also expressed respect for “the determination and passion of the people involved in the project, which became the driving force of the almost-impossible work of construction” and called the project “a historical achievement” resulting from cooperation between Japan and Turkey.
Japan provided official development assistance loans totaling ¥153.3 billion for the subway line linking the Asian and European sides of the city.
A government source said Tuesday that Abe is planning to visit Russia in February for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
President Vladimir Putin has invited him to join the Feb. 7 opening ceremony. Because the Diet will likely be in session at that time, Abe may arrange to visit at another date some time before the Winter Games end Feb. 23, the source said.
If the visit goes ahead, Abe would meet with Putin to discuss economic cooperation and accelerate talks on the island dispute that has prevented Japan and Russia from concluding a World War II peace treaty.
It would come only 10 months after Abe visited Moscow in April for a summit with Putin. That meeting has been followed by a series of talks between the two leaders on the sidelines of international gatherings.
Officials in Tokyo have said Abe and Putin are steadily developing a personal relationship and have expressed hope that this could help address the standoff in the territorial talks.
Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Abe on Japan’s winning bid to host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, according to Japanese officials.
The leaders also share the goal of deepening business ties between Japan and Russia. Moscow is urging more Japanese investment in developing Russia’s Far East, where abundant oil and gas reserves have been confirmed.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, have confirmed that Japan and the European Union should advance cooperation on security, the economy and regional affairs, a Japanese official said.
Kishida and Ashton also agreed to continue working closely in dealing with East Asian and Middle Eastern affairs, including the Iranian nuclear issue.
Kishida plans to visit Iran in early November to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program with his counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. Kishida told Ashton that he will urge Iran to take action through Tokyo’s “traditional friendship” with Tehran.