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(Update) Abe's Visit to Middle East Likely to Be Postponed

(Update) Abe's Visit to Middle East Likely to Be Postponed

   Tokyo, Jan. 8 (Jiji Press)--The Japanese government is considering postponing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's upcoming visit to three Middle East countries amid growing tensions in the region, informed sources said Wednesday.
   Abe has been scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman for five days from Saturday to hold discussions for easing tensions in the region. But tensions have heightened further, after Iran fired dozens of ballistic missiles on two U.S. bases in Iraq early Wednesday in retaliation for the U.S. airstrike that killed a key commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps last week.
   Japan is closely watching the situation as any further escalation in the situation may force it to rethink its plan to dispatch Maritime Self-Defense Force units to the Middle East on a mission to gather information for securing sea lane safety in the region.
   Japanese government officials worry a visit by Abe might overwhelm his hosts, who are busy responding to the spike in tensions. Local media reported that Iran has threatened to target the UAE and other U.S. allies as well.
   But the decision to put off Abe's visit has yet to be finalized, with some arguing that Japan should do its best to make diplomatic efforts to calm the situation.

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AFP-JIJI PRESS NEWS JOURNAL


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