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Spain and Japan have agreed to hold an annual summit in a bid to strengthen their political dialogue, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar Lopez said Friday.

The agreement was reached at a meeting between Aznar and Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto on Thursday, the Spanish prime minister told a press conference at the Japan National Press Club on Friday. The two leaders also agreed to strengthen dialogue at the ministerial level and between senior government officials, Aznar said.

He said Spain’s friendly relations with Japan are important as the European country works to boost its presence in Asia. Aznar said he expects Japanese investment in Spain to increase, pointing out that it has been recovering since 1996, especially in the chemicals sector.

After meeting with Japanese business and economic leaders, Aznar said he felt Japan has more trust in the Spanish market due to the high economic performance it has experienced since his conservative Popular Party came to power 16 months ago. Investment in telecommunications and automobile manufacturing will increase in the future, he predicted.

Regarding Japan’s bid to obtain a permanent seat on the United Nations’ Security Council, Aznar reaffirmed his support but said at the same time that reform of the Security Council should not be achieved in such a way that hampers the interests of other U.N. members.

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