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Japan's Abe arrives in Philippines for summit with Arroyo amid security concerns

Japan's Abe arrives in Philippines for summit with Arroyo amid security concerns

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in the Philippines late Friday for a summit meeting with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo amid an approaching storm and heightened terror-related security concerns.
Abe went ahead with the trip despite the postponement until next month of a pair of regional summit meetings in the central Philippines that were called off because of the storm. Abe and Arroyo plan to hold a one-day summit on Saturday as scheduled.
The summits scheduled for next week were postponed because a strong storm was bearing down on the meeting site on the island of Cebu, a Philippine official said Friday.
Marciano Paynor Jr., head of the summit organizing committee, denied that the decision was driven by the threat of terrorism.
The U.S., Britain and Australia had warned Thursday that terrorists might be in the final stages of planning an attack during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia summits in Cebu.
Abe expressed regret at the postponements. He had also been slated to hold a three-way meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on the sidelines of the East Asia summit.
"It's a shame. It would have been a good opportunity for Japan, China and South Korea to have met," Abe told reporters in Tokyo before departure.
The storm was expected to hit the area when Asian leaders would be flying in over the weekend, Paynor said. The ASEAN summit was scheduled to be held Monday and Tuesday, followed by the East Asia summit on Wednesday.
Abe also denied that the terror warnings were behind the postponement.
"We have heard from the Philippine government that a typhoon is heading toward the site and there were concerns about it," he said.
Still, the Japanese government, citing terror fears in the Philippines, was urging its citizens to take extra cautions while in the country.
The visit to the Philippines is Abe's third overseas trip since assuming office in September.
He visited China and South Korea in October and then traveled to Vietnam for the APEC, or Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, forum leaders' meeting last month.
Abe and Arroyo are expected to discuss a range of issues including their countries' extensive economic and cultural ties.
According to Japan's Foreign Ministry, Japan is the Philippines' second-largest trade partner, while Japan is the biggest foreign investor in the Southeast Asian country.
Also, about 200,000 Filipinos reside in Japan, the fourth-largest foreign community in the country.
In September, Junichiro Koizumi, Abe's predecessor, and Arroyo signed a free trade agreement, officially known as the Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, though it has yet to take effect pending legislative ratification.


Updated : 2021-10-25 23:17 GMT+08:00