Japanese PM leads strong team to the UAE to boost bilateral ties

Abe starts Mideast tour

Tuesday, March 1, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Israel with a two-day visit in the framework of his middle East tour which will also include United Arab Emirates, Jordan and the Palestinian authority.

During his visit, Abe is expected to meet with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as well as participate in an economic forum dealing with diversification and innovation in the UAE. While addressing the business forum, Abe said the UAE and Japan planned to sign an investment treaty.

Japan and the UAE are also bolstering ties in areas such as space development, infrastructure, education and culture, he said.

Abe also visited the UAE in 2007 and in 2013.

A four-party consultative unit comprised of Japan, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians held a meeting at the Dead Sea in Jordan on Sunday night to discuss their "corridor for peace and prosperity" initiative.

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Abe praised the renewal of oil concession agreements by Abu Dhabi to Japanese oil companies saying "bilateral relations in the field of energy have been solidified".

"Abu Dhabi is an extremely important region for us and accounts for half of our net production", said Toshiaki Kitamura, Inpex's CEO and chairman.

About a quarter of all oil imports for Japan come from the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The investment protection treaty between the two countries will encourage more investment flows to the UAE as well as into Japan, said Abdullah al Saleh, under secretary for foreign trade affairs in the UAE ministry of economy.

"Japan is the 6th most important trade partner to the UAE, the fourth of biggest exporter to the UAE, and the top 15 among the most important importers from UAE globally", said the minister. "The cooperation between the two countries has contributed to deepening the partnership in a number of traditional sectors of interest such as energy, industry, investment, tourism, aviation and others", said Mansoori.

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