• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Taro Kono set off Friday on a five-country trip that will take him to the Middle East, where he will discuss peace efforts, and Europe and the United States, where North Korea will be high on the agenda.

In Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, Kono wants to “communicate Japan’s thinking on the state of peace in the Middle East,” he told reporters Friday morning.

The minister said he will give a speech at a security gathering in Bahrain’s capital Manama.

Noting the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump this week to designate Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Kono said there are areas where Japan can further contribute to peace efforts in the Middle East.

He believes Japan’s role is important in light of the difficulty Washington will face being a mediator as anger spreads across the region from Trump’s decision.

After leaving the UAE, Kono will then travel to France to take part in a climate summit in Paris on behalf of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and discuss with French officials plans for a series of Japanese cultural events next year.

In Britain, he will hold talks with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and join a “two-plus-two” security meeting involving the Japanese and British foreign and defense ministers.

Then in New York, Kono will chair a ministerial-level U.N. Security Council meeting on nonproliferation as it relates to North Korea. Japan holds the presidency of the Security Council this month.

Kono said he will return to Japan on Dec. 17.

He said he had also been planning to visit Saudi Arabia during the trip, but a stop became impossible due to a scheduling conflict.

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