Bulgaria pledges opportunities for Japanese firms in Balkans

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, speaks during joint news conference with his Bulgarian counterpart Boiko Borisov in Sofia, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. Abe is visiting Bulgaria as part of his East European tour. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, right, meet in Sofia, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. Abe is visiting Bulgaria as part of his East European tour. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov speaks during joint news conference with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, left, in Sofia, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. Abe is visiting Bulgaria as part of his East European tour. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference in Sofia, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. Abe is visiting Bulgaria as part of his East European tour. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, in Sofia, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. Abe is visiting Bulgaria as part of his East European tour. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov promised Sunday to create opportunities for Japanese businesses in the Balkans and agreed on the need to counter the weapons threat posed by North Korea.

Abe is on a six-country European tour that makes him the first Japanese prime minister to visit the region. Before arriving in Bulgaria, he was in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Serbia and Romania are his next stops. A delegation representing more than 30 Japanese companies is traveling with him.

Abe said Japan favors a united Europe, and he hailed Bulgaria's efforts to bring the countries that were part of the former Yugoslavia into the European Union. Japan is keen to beef up its presence in Eastern Europe as China bolsters its footprint there.

Borisov said options would be found for Japanese companies to implement large infrastructure projects in Bulgaria and across the Western Balkans.

Bulgaria currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU's legislative arm, the European Council. Borisov said his country will work in that role for quick ratification of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement trade deal.

Abe and Borisov agreed that close cooperation is needed on North Korea, both on Pyongyang's arms program and the status of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea decades ago.

"We categorically condemn the launching by North Korea of ballistic missiles and its nuclear program. We believe firmly that all problems should be resolved on the negotiating table," Borisov told reporters.

Briefing reporters on Sunday, Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Norio Maruyama said both leaders stressed the necessity of maintaining pressure on North Korea.

"Both sides cannot accept a nuclear North Korea," Maruyama said.

"We would like to emphasize that this threat is an imminent threat, an unprecedented imminent threat not only to Japan but also to the international community, now that the missiles can reach this region of Europe," he said.

Must Read

Dominant Hirscher takes Alpine skiing slalom gold

Feb 19, 2017

US-ALPINE-WORLD-MEN:Dominant Hirscher takes Alpine skiing slalom gold

Wolff and Lauda renew Mercedes F1 contracts to...

Feb 20, 2017

US-MOTOR-F1-MERCEDES-CONTRACTS:Wolff and Lauda renew Mercedes F1 contracts to 2020

Austrian court convicts 8 Iraqi men in tourist's...

Mar 2, 2017

An Austrian court found eight Iraqi nationals guilty of gang-raping a German tourist on New Year's...

Klimt painting sells for $59 million at...

Mar 2, 2017

US-ART-AUCTION-KLIMT:Klimt painting sells for $59 million at record-breaking London auction

Euro zone investor morale hits almost 10-year high

Mar 6, 2017

US-EUROZONE-ECONOMY-SENTIX:Euro zone investor morale hits almost 10-year high

People also read these

Trump wigs in big demand during Carnival season...

Feb 20, 2017

So many people want to be Donald Trump this Carnival season in Austria that some costume shops have...

Iran's enriched uranium stock halves after...

Feb 24, 2017

US-IRAN-NUCLEAR:Iran's enriched uranium stock halves after flirting with limit: IAEA

Turkish media mogul Dogan summoned to court over...

Mar 1, 2017

US-TURKEY-MEDIA:Turkish media mogul Dogan summoned to court over fuel smuggling

Austrian chancellor calls for EU-wide ban on...

Mar 5, 2017

US-TURKEY-SECURITY-AUSTRIA:Austrian chancellor calls for EU-wide ban on Turkish campaigning

East Libyan forces resume strikes against rivals...

Mar 5, 2017

US-LIBYA-SECURITY-OIL:East Libyan forces resume strikes against rivals near oil ports

Sign up now!