• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed Monday on the need for their countries to play a leading role in tackling the COVID-19 crisis and other global issues.

In a 25-minute phone call, Suga told Macron he wants to further strengthen the “special partnership” between Japan and France, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Macron said he looks forward to advancing bilateral relations that became stronger than ever under Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, who stepped down in mid-September due to health reasons, according to the ministry.

In their first talks since Suga took office, it said the Japanese leader and Macron affirmed their cooperation in achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific, a concept Japan is pushing amid China’s growing influence in the region.

They also agreed to work together in dealing with North Korea, including the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s, and on ensuring the success of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which have been postponed to next summer due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

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