• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay have agreed to initiate a policy dialogue between their foreign ministries in a bid to strengthen bilateral relations.

“We agreed to launch consultations at the level of our foreign-ministry directors general in order to deepen bilateral dialogue,” Abe said at a joint news conference with Tobgay after they met Monday in Tokyo.

Abe pledged continued support in such areas as agriculture and basic infrastructure.

He added that the “government and private sector of Japan will examine what we can do” to support Bhutan’s plan to introduce electric vehicles.

Tobgay said he told Abe that Bhutan wants to introduce the vehicles to help conserve the environment and to reduce spending on oil imports. Bhutan is moving ahead on the project in partnership with Nissan Motor Co.

Tobgay conveyed his country’s appreciation for a recently signed grants agreement with Japan for underprivileged farmers, he said.

“This assistance has been instrumental in improving the livelihood of farmers through increased productivity, and contributing to the nation’s effort to achieve food self-sufficiency and security,” he said.

During the talks, Abe also briefed Tobgay on Japan’s intention to become a “proactive contributor to peace” through international cooperation, in the light of China’s apparent willingness to pursue claims for territory and other resources in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We reaffirmed our commitment to the U.N. Charter and its purposes, including the peaceful settlement of disputes based on the principle of international law,” Tobgay said.

He is the first prime minister of Bhutan to make an official visit to Japan since the two nations established diplomatic relations in 1986. He took office in July 2013.

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