ESD 17:02:01 15-01-2018 LG1701ES.118 118 POLITICS - BULGARIA - JAPAN - PRIME MINISTER - VISIT Bulgarian President Radev Confers with Japanese Prime Minister Abe Sofia, January 15 (BTA) - Bulgarian President Rumen Radev conferred here on Monday with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the head of State's Press Secretariat said. Radev pointed out that Japan is Bulgaria's traditional friend and priority partner and that the two countries share identical values and similar positions on important international issues. The two concurred that Abe's current visit to Bulgaria will upgrade the level of bilateral relations, will catalyze an expansion of business contacts and will give a strong impetus to cooperation in all areas of mutual interest, especially in the economy and investments. "In bilateral relations we prioritize tapping the significant potential for investments, trade, innovation, science and technology because Bulgaria is the most attractive destination for doing business," Radev said, expressing the hope that ever more Japanese companies will implement high value added projects in Bulgaria. "Japan supports united Europe, and we are glad that one of the Bulgarian Presidency priorities is encouraging the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries and an improvement of transport and communication connectivity in the region," the Japanese Prime Minister pointed out at the meeting. For his part, the President welcomed the interest shown by Japan in the countries in the region and added that connectivity in the research projects between the countries is also essential. The Bulgarian head of State and the Japanese head of government reaffirmed the key importance of maintaining the international order based on democracy, freedom and the rule of law. "We are following closely and with concern the situation around North Korea. Bulgaria categorically condemns the North Korean nuclear programme and calls for a cessation of these tests," Radev said. In his opinion, the problem can be solved only through negotiations and dialogue. The two declared themselves in favour of promoting the ample educational exchange based on cooperation between research institutions and universities in the two countries. "The exchange of students and high technologies is exceedingly important for us, and we are grateful for the Japanese government scholarships that are granted annually for Bulgarian undergraduates and postgraduates," the President said. Japan is planning to increase the number of scholarships that are granted for research exchange. This is prompted by the 110th anniversary of the first official bilateral contacts, the 80th anniversary of the establishment and the 60th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which will be celebrated in 2019. The sides agreed that these important anniversaries must be marked appropriately, including by a cultural programme and an exchange of high-level visits. The advancement of the strategic partnership between the EU and Japan was also on the agenda of the talks. "As holder of the EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2018, Bulgaria is ready to continue its constructive role in the EU-Japan dialogue and to facilitate the close cooperation and coordination on important international and regional issues," Radev said. He thanked Abe for the major support that Japan gave Bulgaria during this country's transition to democracy and market economy. LI/LG //

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