• Kyodo, Staff Report

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Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his British counterpart Philip Hammond agreed to help finance a U.N. initiative aimed at improving border security in Tunisia, in line with their countries’ efforts to boost security cooperation related to developing countries in Asia and Africa, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.

Meeting on the fringes of the foreign ministerial talks of the Group of Seven countries in Hiroshima on Sunday, Kishida and Hammond said their respective funding will be disbursed to a program under the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime designed to upgrade the border security situation in Tunisia.

Better border security capabilities are sought to fight the flow of illicit drugs and prevent the entry of terrorists. Tunisia’s landmark museum in the capital city Tunis was the site of a deadly shooting rampage last year in which over 20 tourists were killed.

The foreign ministers of Japan, Britain and other G-7 members — Canada, Italy, France, Germany and the United States — began their talks Sunday, denouncing terrorism and discussing steps for nuclear disarmament. On the sidelines of the G-7 meetings, Kishida met separately with his counterparts from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy and Canada.

A Japanese government source said Japan and Britain also underscored the findings of a meeting in January of foreign and defense officials, in which both sides expressed grave concern over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and opposition to coercive or unilateral actions in the South China Sea — such as land reclamation.

They also discussed economic issues and called for an early conclusion of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement and the Strategic Partnership Agreement.

Separately, Kishida and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni agreed earlier Sunday to strengthen security and defense ties, eyeing early enforcement of a bilateral pact signed last month enabling the two countries to exchange intelligence, a Japanese official said. Italy will assume the presidency of the G-7 next year.

Talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday night saw he and Kishida agree to cooperate closely on U.N. Security Council reform. Tokyo and Berlin both hope for permanent membership.

Meanwhile, Kishida and his Canadian counterpart, Stephane Dion, agreed Saturday to strengthen economic ties, with Japan requesting an early start of Canadian exports of natural gas to Japan. Dion said Canada will do all it can, the ministry said.

Japan and Canada also agreed to hold a “two-plus-two” meeting between the countries’ vice foreign and defense ministers on April 19 in Tokyo, the Foreign Ministry said.

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