Japan's Abe says Ukraine on G7 summit agenda
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday that G7 leaders would discuss Kiev's plight at a Japan summit next month.
Ukraine is locked in a bitter conflict with Russia over the seizure of the Crimean peninsula from Kiev in 2014 and its alleged support of a pro-Russian separatist uprising in the east of the country.
The fighting has claimed the lives of nearly 9,200 people and driven more than 1.5 million from their homes.
"Issues surrounding Ukraine remain among the important issues for the international community," Abe said at a joint appearance with Poroshenko.
"Japan views this issue seriously, and we plan to thoroughly discuss it at the G7 summit" next month, he added.
Leaders of the Group of Seven or G7, which consists of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, will gather in western Japan's Ise-Shima late next month for their annual meeting.
Their foreign ministers are scheduled to hold a two-day meeting in the city of Hiroshima from Sunday.
The group was formerly known as the G8 when Russia participated but Moscow has essentially been kicked out over the seizure of Crimea.
"We agreed that we do not tolerate changes of national borders by force," Poroshenko said, adding that he thanked Abe for his stance on ensuring Ukraine will be discussed at the summit.
But in spite of supporting Ukraine, Japan has also been trying to improve relations with Russia, long strained by a territorial dispute left over from the closing days of World War II that has prevented the countries from reaching a peace treaty.
Earlier Wednesday, Russia announced that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo on April 15, as the two sides seek to lay the groundwork for a meeting between Abe and President Vladimir Putin.
At a separate press conference earlier in the day in Tokyo, Poroshenko said that "Japan is a very strong and reliable partner" and expressed confidence that Abe would use any opportunity of a meeting with Putin to push Russia to fulfil ceasefire agreements in Ukraine.
© 2016 AFP