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The Middle East and North Africa

Peace and stability in the Middle East are enormously important in addressing global challenges such as the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and counter-terrorism, and directly affects the peace and prosperity of the international community as a whole. In addition, Japan imports approximately 90% of its crude oil from the region, which is a major supplier of oil and natural gas.

In 2009, the Middle East experienced Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, continued terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, growing concern over Iran�s nuclear issue, and destabilization of situations in Yemen. Meanwhile, the Middle East directs its efforts toward economic development with its abundant energy resources and ample capital. Though affected by the global financial and economic crises, the region presents new opportunities for Japan to promote further cooperation and build more business ties.

Against this backdrop, Japan is actively engaged in diplomacy in the Middle East, cooperating with the international community, with the aim of ensuring peace and stability in the region and building multi-layered cooperative relations with the region.

To secure peace and stability in the region, Japan is striving to work out peaceful solutions to the Middle East peace, Iran�s nuclear issue and other outstanding issues, in close cooperation with other major countries concerned as well as through approaches based on its own bilateral relations with countries in the region. In particular, efforts in this regard include political dialogues at ministerial and high-ranking official levels, assistance to help build a Palestinian state, and support for the reconstruction of Iraq. In November 2009, as its new strategy to counter the threat of terrorism, Japan announced its new assistance package for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Japan has also been conducting Middle-East diplomacy in various international fora, including the G8, the Security Council of the UN and other multilateral cooperative frameworks.

Japan has also been further developing its relations with the Middle East countries on the axis of the economic front centering on energy, and promoting efforts to build multi-layered relations in a broad range of fields such as politics, science and technology, education and culture. In December 2009, the first meeting of the Japan-Arab Economic Forum was held in Tokyo with approximately 1,200 participants from Japan and various Arab countries, including Mr. Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, and other major ministers and business leaders of those participating countries. Also in the same month, the Second Japan-Iraq Economic Forum was held in Baghdad.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Okada attending �Polio Eradication Campaign� conducted by Afghan government (October 11, Kabul, Afghanistan)

Minister for Foreign Affairs Okada attending �Polio Eradication Campaign� conducted by Afghan government (October 11, Kabul, Afghanistan)

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