Abe, Ma­hathir agree to co­op­er­ate in han­dling N. Korea

The Myanmar Times - - Asean Focus -

PRIME Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe agreed Tues­day with his Malaysian coun­ter­part Ma­hathir Mo­hamad to co­op­er­ate in ad­dress­ing North Korea’s nu­clear and mis­sile de­vel­op­ment as well as the ab­duc­tion of Ja­panese ci­ti­zens.

“I will closely co­op­er­ate with Mr Ma­hathir to send out a pow­er­ful mes­sage to North Korea,” Abe told a joint news con­fer­ence af­ter the two lead­ers’ meet­ing, which came as the US and North Korean lead­ers held their first sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore to dis­cuss how to de­nu­cle­arise the Korean Penin­sula.

Ex­press­ing his hope for the suc­cess of the sum­mit, Abe also said, “North Korea has rich (nat­u­ral) re­sources and a dili­gent work­force. It will have a bright fu­ture if it treads the right path.”

Ma­hathir said he hopes the United States and North Korea “ac­cept the fact that, in ne­go­ti­a­tions, both sides must be pre­pared to give in cer­tain is­sues if they ex­pect to reach a good con­clu­sion.”

“Ex­pect­ing only one side to give in will not re­sult in a very pos­i­tive con­clu­sion,” he added.

Ma­hathir, 92, who was prime min­is­ter be­tween 1981 and 2003, re­turned to power in last month’s gen­eral elec­tion fol­low­ing cor­rup­tion ac­cu­sa­tions against his pre­de­ces­sor Na­jib Ab­dul Razak.

In an at­tempt to boost bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion, Abe said Ja­pan will up­grade Malaysia’s “Look East Pol­icy” to pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion ex­change, hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment and the trans­fer of sci­ence tech­nolo­gies. Ma­hathir hailed Abe’s re­solve.

Ma­hathir in­tro­duced in 1981 the bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tive ini­tia­tive, which brought some 16,000 Malaysians to Ja­pan to study.

Ma­hathir’s de­ci­sion to make Ja­pan his first des­ti­na­tion since re­tak­ing of­fice is seen by some an­a­lysts as a sign of his will­ing­ness to keep a dis­tance from China, which has mas­sively in­vested in Malaysia and con­se­quently in­creased the na­tion’s ex­ter­nal debt.

On Mon­day, Ma­hathir told an in­ter­na­tional sem­i­nar in Tokyo that Malaysia will re­duce its debt to China while main­tain­ing trade ties with the coun­try. – Kyodo

Photo: Kyodo News via AP

Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Ma­hathir Mo­hamad, left, and his Ja­panese coun­ter­part, Shinzo Abe, shake hands, prior to their talks at Abe’s of­fi­cial res­i­dence in Tokyo on Tues­day.

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