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Japan and Malta agree to maintain rules-based maritime order

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Maltese counterpart Joseph Muscat agreed Wednesday to closely cooperate in maintaining maritime order based on the rule of law.

In a news conference after their meeting in Tokyo, Abe said the two leaders confirmed the importance of the issue. Malta is the home of the International Maritime Law Institute aimed at training specialists in the field.

Abe said they also agreed to work together in resolving outstanding issues surrounding North Korea, including Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s.

On the economic front, Muscat, the first Maltese prime minister to visit Japan in 28 years, expressed hope for an early implementation of a free trade agreement Japan and the European Union signed last month. Malta is one of the 28 members of the bloc.

Abe and Muscat last met in Malta in May 2017, when Abe stopped there on his way home from the Group of Seven summit in Italy. It was the first-ever visit to the country by a sitting Japanese prime minister.