Manama: Bahrain said that it looked forward to reinforcing bilateral relations with Japan as its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, arrives in the kingdom on Saturday on a two-day visit.
The visit is “within in the framework of longstanding and distinctive friendship between the two countries”, Bahraini officials said. Abe will also visit Kuwait, Qatar and Djibouti.
In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, he is expected to push for a prompt resumption of the talks for a free trade agreement stalled since 2009. While in the northeastern African country, the prime minister is planning, according to Japanese media, to meet Japanese Self-Defence Forces officers stationed there to help fight piracy in waters off Somalia.
In Manama, Bahrain and Japan will discuss ways to strengthen the excellent bilateral relations and sign several Memoranda of Understanding and agreements in the fields of economy and trade, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) said.
“The visit of the Prime Minister of Japan to the Kingdom of Bahrain is a new stage in the historical and close ties between Bahrain and Japan, which date back to 1934 when the first shipment of oil was sent to Japan. Relations between the two countries have passed many significant milestones, most notably when the Government of Japan recognised Bahrain after its independence in 1971.”
Japan established an embassy in Manama in 1988 and Bahrain opened an embassy in Tokyo in 2005.
Japan is Bahrain’s second largest trading partner. The volume of trade between the two capitals reached $3.7 billion (Dh13.58 billion) in 2011 and non-oil trade amounted to $610 million, BNA said.