• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will join a series of online meetings with ASEAN leaders on Wednesday to discuss issues including COVID-19 countermeasures and economic recovery, a government spokesman said Tuesday.

Kishida said separately that he will take part in U.N. climate change talks to be held in the U.K. The leaders’ session of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) is scheduled for Nov. 1 to 2.

Having taken office early this month, the meeting would be his first overseas trip if he opts to attend in person.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference Japan “respects” the decision by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to bar Myanmar’s military leader from attending the group’s annual talks.

ASEAN leaders met Tuesday for their summit without a representative from Myanmar, where the democratically elected government was overthrown in a coup in February.

Kishida is set to participate in meetings with the leaders of ASEAN as well as representatives from Australia, China, India, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States, Matsuno said, adding that they are also expected to exchange views on issues concerning the South China Sea and North Korea, which has recently resumed ballistic missile tests.

“With a population of 670 million, ASEAN is not only a global growth center but given its location is also the lynchpin for realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Matsuno said. “We look forward to the leaders having fruitful discussions, including on concrete ways to cooperate with ASEAN.”

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