• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday left for a five-day tour of the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Palestine and Israel, in a trip aimed at bolstering cooperation with the region over energy and the Middle East peace process.

“I intend to work for the Middle East peace process by engaging with both Israel and Palestine in a constructive manner,” Abe told reporters before leaving from Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

According to government officials, Abe is set to become the first leader of a major power, including among the Group of Seven industrialized countries, to visit both Israel and Palestine after U.S. President Donald Trump announced in December Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Abe’s itinerary begins with a business forum in the UAE on Monday, followed by a meeting with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan later in the day.

Abe and the UAE leader are expected to confirm their two countries’ continued cooperation over energy supply to Japan after the UAE extended an offshore oil field contract held by Japanese energy developer Inpex Corp. for 40 years in March, according to the government officials.

In Jordan on Tuesday, Abe is expected to meet with Prime Minister Hani Mulki and King Abdullah II to discuss ways to deal with terrorism and to announce fresh Japanese support for the country, which has accepted around 1.3 million refugees from conflict-mired Syria, to the country’s north.

He is set to hold a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later in the day to convey Japan’s readiness to get further involved in realizing Middle East peace.

Japan supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and maintains that the final status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations between the parties.

On Wednesday, Abe is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss promoting bilateral cooperation in the economic and cybersecurity areas.

During his Middle Eastern tour, Abe is also expected to discuss how to address North Korea with regional leaders there following the historic inter-Korean summit.

Abe last visited the UAE in May 2013, and the other destinations in January 2015.

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