Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi vowed support for Senegal’s health and medical systems in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic during his three-day trip to the West African country through Tuesday, according to Japanese officials.
Motegi told Senegalese President Macky Sall and his counterpart Aissata Tall Sall in separate talks that Japan will back Senegal’s efforts to promote universal health coverage to ensure basic medical care for all citizens, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said Monday.
Senegal’s foreign minister thanked Japan for its support and requested its cooperation in securing coronavirus vaccines for the country and in resolving the debt problems of developing countries, it said.
The minister also expressed support for realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific, a vision Tokyo is pushing to promote the rule of law, freedom of navigation and enhance regional connectivity through high-quality infrastructure, the Japanese ministry said.
Japan is pitching the vision in its diplomacy in Africa amid China’s rising clout in the continent. Motegi’s African visit came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi traveled to Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Tanzania and Seychelles through Saturday.
The Senegalese foreign minister said she supports Japan’s view completely and will actively seek to realize the vision, the ministry said.
Prior to the meetings, Motegi and Senegal’s economy minister Amadou Hott exchanged notes Sunday regarding Japan’s extension of up to ¥7.17 billion ($69 million) of low-interest loans to Senegal to improve rice production and help raise its food self-efficiency rate, it said.
Motegi, who visited Senegal after concluding a five-nation Latin America tour to Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, will travel onto Kenya before returning to Japan on Thursday.
Motegi’s Africa tour follows his trip to Tunisia, Mozambique, South Africa and Mauritius in December last year.
On Tuesday, Motegi also held telephone talks with his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama and explained he had to cancel a planned stop in the African country due to the detection of a new strain of coronavirus there, stressing Nigeria continues to be an important partner of Japan, the ministry said.
Motegi and Onyeama agreed to closely cooperate toward the next round of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in 2022 to discuss development and health issues, it said.
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