• Kyodo

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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin plans to visit Japan for three days from March 1 to meet Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, sources in Tokyo and Kiev said Saturday.

The meeting is aimed at strengthening Ukraine’s ties with Japan. A cease-fire between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine took effect last Sunday, but the fighting is continuing.

It will be the first visit by a Ukrainian minister to Japan since Ukraine’s revolution in February 2014 and Russia’s annexation of Crimea the following month.

Japan maintains support for Ukraine, and has condemned Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in southern Ukraine, saying sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and any attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion cannot be accepted.

The two ministers are expected to discuss cooperation for a settlement of the conflict and a response to Russia’s actions, according to the sources. Klimkin and Kishida are also likely to discuss ways Japan can help restore Ukraine’s economy, which is in crisis.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in March last year that Japan will extend up to $1.3 billion in aid to Ukraine. Klimkin is expected to call for Japan’s continued support.

During an October meeting in Italy, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko invited Abe to visit Ukraine. The issue will also be on their agenda, the sources said.

The ministers are also expected to discuss Ukraine’s help in reconstruction work following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Meanwhile, officials from Japan and Russia are trying to arrange a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin here later this year.

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