Ja­pan PM Abe pays a visit to Ukraine ahead of tough G-7 sum­mit


Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe vowed dur­ing an his­toric first visit to Ukraine on Satur­day to spear­head a global drive to re­solve the cri­sis threat­en­ing to splin­ter the ex-Soviet state.

Abe told Ukra­nian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko on the eve of a sum­mit meet­ing of the world’s most eco­nom­i­cally ad­vanced na­tions that he “res­o­lutely” op­posed a mil­i­tary so­lu­tion to the con­flict roil­ing the trou­bled coun­try’s sep­a­ratist east.

His visit co­in­cided with a sharp es­ca­la­tion in fight­ing that claimed the life of one more gov­ern­ment sol­dier overnight.

“Ja­pan, as a coun­try that next year will chair the Group of Seven, will do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to find a peace­ful so­lu­tion to the prob­lems fac­ing Ukraine to­day,” Abe said dur­ing a joint ap­pear­ance with Poroshenko.

The Ja­panese leader added through a trans­la­tor that he re­spected Ukraine’s “sovereignty, rule of law and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity”.

The first of­fi­cial trip to Ukraine by a Ja­panese head of state comes as Tokyo’s re­la­tions with Moscow — al­ready bat­tered by a decades­old row over rights to a small chain of is­lands — are experiencing still more strain.

Ja­pan has con­trib­uted more than US$1 mil­lion to a global res­cue pack­age for Kiev and black­listed Rus­sians it sus­pects of play­ing a key role in seiz­ing Ukraine’s Crimea penin­sula last year.

And Poroshenko is try­ing to mo­bi­lize top world lead­ers who meet in Ger­many on Sun­day into craft­ing an even tougher re­sponse to what he sees is a clear at­tempt by Rus­sia to ei­ther break up or at the very least se­verely dam­age Ukraine.

The em­bat­tled Ukrainian leader spoke on Fri­day to both U. S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel — an ally who to­gether with French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande helped craft the truce now threat­en­ing to fall apart.

He is also due to host Canadian Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper

later on Satur­day.

Ral­ly­ing G-7 against Rus­sia

This week’s flareup in fight­ing has killed around 30 Ukrainian sol­diers and scores of civil­ians. The pro-Rus­sian rebels rarely re­port their ex­act losses but have also ad­mit­ted to suf­fer­ing heavy ca­su­al­ties.

Poroshenko called Abe’s visit to Kiev of great “his­toric and sym­bolic value”.

“We highly value Ja­pan’s res­o­lute de­ci­sion not to rec­og­nize Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea,” said Poroshenko.

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