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The leaders of Japan and the European Union pledged Friday at their annual meeting to conclude a bilateral free trade deal by the end of the year and expressed concerns about rising tensions in the East and South China seas.

“We agreed to accelerate our negotiations on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, aiming to reach broad agreement by the end of the year with an emphasis on both speed and substance,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after his summit with visiting European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

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