National / Politics

Abe nixes embassy move to Jerusalem, says Japan will bolster contribution to Middle East peace

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday that Japan will actively contribute to helping realize peace in the Middle East, and that it has no intention of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

During their talks at Abbas’ office in Ramallah, Abe also conveyed Tokyo’s plan to provide food aid worth $10 million, Japanese officials said.

Abbas, for his part, thanked Japan for its assistance and expressed hope for whatever role Tokyo may play in helping to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The two leaders’ meeting came after the United States’ controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that has raised concerns about the fate of peace talks.

Abe reiterated Japan’s support for a two-state solution to the conflict and maintained that the final status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations between the parties.

He also pointed out that the role played by the U.S. will be crucial in bringing peace to the region and called on Abbas to sit down at the negotiating table if Washington offers any proposals.

Earlier Tuesday in Amman, Abe pledged to continue Japan’s support for Jordan in managing an influx of refugees from neighboring Syria with new financial aid of up to ¥1.6 billion.

During their talks in Amman, Abe told his Jordanian counterpart Hani Mulki that Japan will provide aid to help improve waste processing capacity in the northern part of the Middle East country, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

Jordan has accepted around 1.3 million refugees from Syria, its war-torn neighbor to the north.

Also meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II, Abe said, “The stability of Jordan is indispensable for that of the region and Japan will support its development as much as possible.” In response, the king said Japan’s support is vital.

The Middle East peace process is an important topic for both countries. Jordan is an important partner for Japan due to its diplomatic efforts in the region and involvement in the Japanese-led “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” development project that includes both Israel and Palestine.

Abe is on a five-day Middle East tour, which has taken him to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. He will also visit Israel for talks with his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.