Fri, 21 Jan 2022

Tokyo [Japan], November 29 (ANI): Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and European Council President Charles Michel on Monday agreed to work together on efforts to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

In phone talks, both sides exchanged views on China and North Korea, and affirmed cooperation over global issues including climate change, Kyodo News reported citing the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

According to the Japanese news agency, Michel had planned to visit Tokyo for a meeting with Kishida on Monday but was forced to cancel the trip due to surging COVID-19 infections.

"Kishida said it was unfortunate that he could not speak to Michel in person and they should meet for more substantial talks at a convenient time for both sides," the ministry said.

Japan has been seeking to bolster ties with the European Union to counter China's increasing military and economic clout, amid growing concern over what Tokyo views as unilateral attempts to change the status quo in regional waters, Kyodo News reported.

Kishida welcomed the bloc's adoption of a new Indo-Pacific strategy in September, which mentions stepping up trade and investment with Taiwan.

China considers the democratically self-governed island as a rogue province and has been ramping up pressure, including by sending military planes into its air defense identification zone.

"Kishida and Michel also agreed to strengthen economic cooperation in the areas of digital and green technology, cybersecurity and supply chain stability in line with a Japan-EU economic partnership agreement that took effect in 2019," the ministry said.

Earlier, Kishida had also expressed strong concern over human rights issues in China during his remarks at a virtual meeting of leaders from about 50 Asian and European countries.

Kishida voiced worries about the human rights situation in Hong Kong as well as the Xinjiang region in northwestern China on the sidelines of the two-day summit, Kyodo News reported.

In recent days, fresh evidence has emerged against China showing surveillance, intimidation and harassment of members of the Uyghur Muslim minority community at concentration camps in China's Xinjiang region. (ANI)

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