Palestinian-Israeli dialogue urged


Visiting Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba on Wednesday stressed the need for the Palestinians to hold a direct dialogue with Israel to move ahead with stalled peace negotiations, Japanese government officials said.

During his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Jordanian capital of Amman, Genba said the most important thing is to resolve problems through direct talks, the officials said.

Expressing his gratitude for Japan’s political involvement and efforts to engage Israel, Abbas mentioned the possibility of the Palestinian Authority applying for full membership in the United Nations as a sovereign state, depending on Israel’s response, and said he wants to consult with Japan and other relevant nations on that issue, the officials said.

Earlier in the day, Genba met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah in the West Bank and told him Japan will expand its economic support for strained Palestinian finances, they said.

Fayyad welcomed the offer and said Japan’s support will be very helpful to the area’s nation-building efforts.

Genba also told Fayyad that Japan will use the title of ambassador for the head of its representative office in Ramallah.

Although Japan has yet to recognize a Palestinian nation, the decision to use the title reflects Tokyo’s intention to support the authority’s nation-building.

At a separate meeting in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Genba praised Jordan’s efforts to help reopen stalled peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Japanese government officials said.

Genba said Jordan is playing an important role in such efforts. Judeh said his country has been doing its best not simply as a mediator but as a stakeholder, the officials said.

Japan separately confirmed with the Palestinians and Jordan that they will work together to promote a Japan-led project for creating a the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” to develop agriculture and industry in the West Bank, they said.

Boosting Russia ties


Visiting Democratic Party of Japan policy chief Seiji Maehara and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed Wednesday on the need to strategically develop bilateral relations through energy cooperation and other steps.

Lavrov invited Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba to visit Russia, according to Maehara, chairman of the DPJ’s Policy Research Committee.

Lavrov called on Japan to positively consider a Russian proposal to jointly carry out economic development programs on the Russia-held islands off Hokkaido that Japan wants returned.

Russia hopes the proposal will be put into action on condition that the two countries’ legal positions are not harmed, Lavrov said.

In response, Maehara said Japan will allow working-level talks to continue.

The islands were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War II. The territorial row has prevented Japan and Russia from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.