Address by Mr. Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

photo (Foreign Minister Taro Aso)

Speech by Foreign Minister Taro Aso
at the Reception for the Third Israel-Palestine Peace and Confidence-Building Conference

Tokyo
March 14, 2007
Japanese

Vice Premier Shimon Peres of Israel;
Dr. Saeb Erekat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of PLO;
Mr. Farouk Kasrawi, Special Adviser to the King of Jordan;
Ladies and gentlemen.

It is my heartfelt pleasure today to have held the Third Conference for Israel-Palestine Peace and Confidence-Building, in which representatives of Israel, Palestine and Jordan participated. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the people interested in the Middle East Peace Process who joined us on this occasion.

The situation of the Middle East is faced with numerous difficulties. The stability of the region as such represents an important theme that has been long sought by the entire international community. Japan is committed to confidence-building in the region through dialogue, with the aim of realizing the co-existence and co-prosperity of the Israel and Palestine. This latest confidence-building conference is important in terms of demonstrating the existence of the partners and opportunities for this dialogue. It would furthermore be to our pleasure if, due to its remoteness from the Middle East, Japan, as the venue of the conference, helped the participants talking more open-mindedly with one another.

When then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the Middle East in July of last year, he proposed the concept of "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity" which aims at contributing to creating a viable Palestinian Economy in the future through regional cooperation. The Four-Party Consultative Unit has been set up by Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Japan as a result of our latest meeting today in order to materialize the concept.

  • (1) We will maintain high political interest in promoting this initiative.
  • (2) We will focus our attention on supporting the activities of the feasibility study mission starting the end of March for this concept, in particular, on selecting venue to build an agro-industrial park.
  • (3) We will regularly convene four-party meetings at technical-level within the region, and the first meeting will be held around June this year.

In my recent speech entitled "Middle East Policy As I See It," I pointed out the importance of each of the four parties' making its best efforts to build "trust" through cooperative undertakings to materialize the "Corridor". I also spoke of the importance of giving the local youth a sense of "confidence" through prosperity of Palestine. From now on, I strongly expect to see further efforts by all the parties involved toward the realization of the concept.

Needless to say, we do not believe that peace in the Middle East can be brought about merely by realizing this concept alone.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my profound respect to major countries in the region, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for making efforts in various fields even on this day to realize peace in the Middle East. Japan for its part will join hands with any of those countries working painstakingly for peace in the region.

In closing, I would like to share with you that Japan will provide new assistance of about US$12.6 million in the medical and job-creation areas in order to help improve the dare humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories and to support President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in his effors for peace.

I would like to conclude my message by expressing my conviction that these commitments by Japan, along with the passion and efforts by each one of you present here, will definitely lead the Middle East to peace and stability. Thank you very much.


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