• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in New York on Sunday to attend the U.N. General Assembly and to take part in a slew of meetings surrounding the annual event.

Japan “will take the leadership toward a new U.N. resolution” for sanctions against North Korea, Abe told reporters before departing from Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

He will also fly to Cuba, partly to fortify the international consensus over the threat from North Korea. He will be the first Japanese prime minister to visit Cuba, which has close ties with Pyongyang.

He is likely to announce development assistance to Havana as its Cold War-era isolation melts away.

In New York, Abe is expected to participate in a summit Tuesday on refugee issues hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama, before delivering a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.

In addressing the U.N. general assembly session for the fourth consecutive year, Abe is expected to focus on Japan’s contribution to peace and security, the rule of law and eagerness to reform the U.N. Security Council, where it currently holds a nonpermanent seat.

He is expected to call for strong action against North Korea following its fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9 and a series of ballistic missile launches in recent months. Japan is also preparing stricter unilateral sanctions.

Abe will likely hold bilateral talks with several leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. gatherings. He also plans to speak at seminars Monday aimed at promoting tourism and investment in Japan, and to address heavyweights in the financial world Wednesday, officials said.

In Cuba from Thursday, Abe is scheduled to hold talks with President Raul Castro, with economic cooperation across the public and private sectors likely to be high on the agenda.

He may also seek a meeting with former President Fidel Castro, Raul’s elder brother and leader of Cuba’s 1950s revolution.

According to a Japanese source, Abe and Raul Castro are expected to confirm cooperation in the medical field, including the establishment of a center in Cuba to train doctors in Japanese medical practices and the provision of about ¥1 billion in grant aid for the purchase of medical equipment.

The North Korean question may be a tricky one to broach.

Havana and Pyongyang maintain diplomatic relations, and in 2013 a North Korean ship seized by Panamanian authorities was suspected of trying to covertly bring Cuban weapons and fighter jets to North Korea in defiance of a U.N. embargo.

The resumption of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana in July 2015 following a 54-year freeze has prompted other countries to strengthen their outreach to Cuba. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is scheduled to visit this month.

Akie Abe is accompanying her husband. Her engagements in New York will likely include events dedicated to HIV and autism and a visit to the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.

They are to return to Japan next Saturday.

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