• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered his condolences on the death of former Israeli Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres, calling the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize winner a “great leader.”

Abe expressed his respect for the Israeli leader’s efforts to forge peace in the Middle East, saying in a statement Wednesday that “the Oslo (Peace) Accords would not have been achieved without the devotion of Mr. Peres.”

Peres met Abe in 2007 during a visit to Japan as deputy prime minister to launch a Tokyo-led initiative intended to build confidence between Israelis and Palestinians called the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity.”

“I continue to admire the role he played as a great bridge between Japan and the Middle East,” Abe said.

Peres, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the signing of an interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in 1993, died Wednesday. He had been hospitalized since Sept. 13 after suffering a stroke. His state funeral will be held Friday in Jerusalem.

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