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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his EU counterparts agreed Thursday to cooperate in realizing a “free and open” Indo-Pacific and ensuring economic and energy security while taking strong steps against Russia to stop its war in Ukraine.

In a joint press appearance after their meeting in Tokyo, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the 27-member bloc wants to take a more “active” role in a region that is thriving and also “a theater of tensions,” in a veiled reference to the rise of an assertive China. Von der Leyen also noted the threat posed by North Korea, which has repeatedly tested ballistic missiles in recent months.

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