Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to visit Europe and the Middle East in mid-July on a weeklong tour that will include a signing ceremony for a free trade deal between Japan and the European Union, government sources said Wednesday.
Abe is expected to visit Brussels on the first leg of his trip beginning July 11 to sign the trade pact at the EU headquarters, the sources said. Talks with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are also planned.
Tokyo and the 28-member bloc finalized negotiations in December last year on the agreement to create one of the world’s biggest trading areas, expecting it to take effect by late March next year before Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Abe has said he will visit France to attend the opening ceremony of “Japonismes 2018,” an event in Paris and elsewhere to introduce Japanese culture. This year marks the 160th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties.
He also plans to hold a summit with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss security cooperation and observe the Bastille Day military parade, the sources said.
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is viewed as a possible stop because the Japanese prime minister was not able to visit the country during his last Middle East tour in May.
His last stop will likely be Egypt for talks with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was re-elected in April, on the Middle East peace process and the situation in Syria, they said.