Japan PM to visit Ukraine ahead of G7 in Germany
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left for Ukraine Friday to show "solidarity" with Kiev in its battle against Russian-backed rebels in the country's east.
In a lightning visit ahead of the Group of Seven summit in Germany, Abe was set to meet embattled President Petro Poroshenko to offer his support, a Tokyo official said.
"Japan does not accept changes in the status quo by force and emphasises the rule of law, sovereignty and the integrity of the territory of Ukraine," the official said.
After his one-night stay in Kiev, Abe will join the G7 summit in Elmau, Germany, which opens on Sunday, where he will look to provide "fruitful imput" on the Ukraine situation, the official added.
"Japan will, as the next chair of the G7, emphasise its solidarity with the G7 and make efforts for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the situation," the official said.
Poroshenko warned Thursday of the "colossal threat" of renewed fighting with pro-Russian rebels after a surge in violence that left at least 26 people dead.
Fresh clashes erupted near the rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Wednesday, in one of the worst outbreaks of violence since a European-brokered truce was agreed in February.
The upsurge in fighting revived fears in Kiev that the separatists may be gearing up for a new push into government-controlled territory.
The G7 -- Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, the US and Canada -- booted Russia out of the club after it annexed the southern Ukrainian region of Crimea last year and because of its continued support for separatists in the troubled east.
Abe has held multiple summits with Putin since coming to office in late 2012, pushing to expand economic ties and resolve a dispute over the ownership of islands that were seized by Soviet troops in the closing days of World War II.
But the crisis in Ukraine has thrown a spanner in the works, and Tokyo has joined its allies in Europe and North America in heaping sanctions and pressure on Moscow.
© 2015 AFP