Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Thursday, August 19, 2021, 5:05 p.m. Jordan
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: During this visit to the Middle Eastte, I have visited Egypt, Palestine, Israel, and I am now visiting Jordan. I plan to visit Turkey, Iran, and Qatar next.
Before I speak about my visit to the Middle East, I would like to talk about my participation in the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting regarding the situation in Afghanistan, which was held online earlier today from 3:30 p.m. Jordan time for one and a half hours.
As the situation in Afghanistan is in a crucial phase, the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was set up on very short notice. The G7 foreign ministers exchanged their views candidly, and I believe it was very meaningful when considering the future response. I pointed out that the most urgent matter is that all people who wish to leave Afghanistan be able to safely find shelter, that we should exert all efforts to avoid a humanitarian crisis, and that it is important to ensure the freedom of access and activities of humanitarian support organizations within Afghanistan. I also pointed out that it is important to cooperate with a wide range of countries, including neighboring countries, from the perspective of regional stability and countermeasures against terrorism. We confirmed that we would continue to cooperate closely as G7. The meeting just ended.
Now I will speak about my visit to the Middle East.
Through this visit, I am re-emphasizing Japan’s commitment to the Middle East, as Japan has contributed for many years to the Middle East’s peace and prosperity and built robust relations with the region. We are seeing major developments in the situation in the Middle East. In the respective areas I visited, I confirmed close cooperation on various regional matters, and also heard from various countries about their high appreciation for Japan’s initiatives thus far toward stabilizing the region, including for peace in the Middle East, as well as their sense of expectation for Japan’s future initiatives. In regard to the situation in Afghanistan, I agreed with Egypt, an influential player in the Islamic world, and Jordan, a key player for regional stability, to cooperate so that factors that would cause further instability do not materialize. I would like to discuss this issue later in Turkey and Iran as well.
The Middle East is the major supply source of energy for Japan and is located in an important part of sea lanes. The regional peace and stability is extremely important for the international community, including Japan.
I explained Japan’s thinking and initiatives toward realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” and gained understanding. During my upcoming visits to Turkey, Iran, and Qatar, I wish to confirm our continued cooperation with the countries, and strongly promote “diplomacy with both tolerance and strength.”
Reporter: I would like to ask about the G7 meeting regarding Afghanistan. During the meeting, was there a discussion on whether to recognize Taliban’s administration as an official administration? What will Japan emphasize when considering this issue?
Minister Motegi: During the G7 meeting today, firstly we confirmed that the most urgent issue is the safe, quick evacuation of foreign nationals who are left in Afghanistan as well as people who want to leave the country. We also discussed and came to agreement on matters such as humanitarian aid, regional stability, and countermeasures against terrorism. I believe that we will need to urge the Taliban to maintain public security, and to quickly cooperate in lifesaving measures and evacuations. The question is how to approach the Taliban. We would like to first monitor this situation that began on August 15. We would like to observe their deeds, not words. For example, we do not want the Taliban to return to their strict Islamic rule in the past. We will closely pay attention to whether the Taliban is moving in a new direction in various ways, including their respect towards women’s rights.