Abe to visit G-7 countries in spring to prepare for summit


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to visit the United States in March and the European members of the Group of Seven countries during Golden Week to reaffirm cooperation ahead of the G-7 summit Japan will host in May.

Aside from holding talks with the leaders of the G-7 countries, Abe is mulling an unofficial visit to Russia for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin before hosting the May 26-27 summit in Mie Prefecture, government sources said Tuesday.

The G-7 summit will bring together the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. Russia was part of the Group of Eight framework, but its membership was suspended following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Abe plans to attend the two-day Nuclear Security Summit that starts March 31 in Washington and meet with U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on its sidelines, the sources said.

He may also hold talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on the fringes of the summit, the sources said. It would be their first meeting since Japan and South Korea struck a landmark deal in December on the “comfort women” issue.

During the Golden Week holidays, which run from late April to early May, Abe is considering traveling to Belgium to attend an annual summit between Japan and the European Union in late April and extending the trip to Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia.

Abe will seek to secure cooperation from his G-7 peers to demonstrate a united front in dealing with issues such as North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, the uncertain global economic outlook and measures against the Islamic State group.

“It is very important that the prime minister communicates well with other G-7 leaders ahead of the summit. I want to make efforts” to accomplish such communications, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a news conference Tuesday.

In the talks with Putin, Abe would seek to move forward negotiations to solve the decades-old territorial dispute over the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, which has prevented Tokyo and Moscow from signing a peace treaty following World War II.

Abe wants to push for an early visit to Japan by Putin to advance talks on the territorial row, the sources said.