Leaders from Japan and the European Union (EU) on Tuesday reiterated their commitment to the earliest possible conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks.
At the annual Japan-EU summit here they underlined the importance of continued progress in the ongoing negotiations for the pact.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also agreed to present without delay ambitious market access offers on trade in goods, trade in services and procurement, and address the issues of non-tariff measures and railways, according to a joint press statement released after the talks. "We agreed to aim for the comprehensive and high-level FTA and confirmed our commitment to the earliest conclusion of the negotiations," Abe told a joint press conference. For his part, Van Rompuy said, "We recognized there is still considerable way to go, and that time is pressing. For these reasons, we instructed our ministers and commissioners to assure that substantial progress is achieved before the formal review of the free trade negotiations in the EU which is scheduled in April next year." The EU has said it will review in April whether Japan has made progress in eliminating non-tariff barriers and it will decide then whether they will continue the talks or not.
During the talks, the leaders also shared the view that the Iranian nuclear program remains a source of serious concern, and strongly "urged Iran to comply with all its obligations under the relevant Resolutions of the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Board of Governors, and invited Iran to resolve the difficulties with the international community," the statement said. Both sides emphasized their desire for a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue, while the EU welcomed Japan's proactive engagement in Iran based on its long-standing friendship, according to the statement. "It is important that Iran urgently addresses the substance of all the IAEA's concerns, and resolves present and past outstanding issues, including those pointing to the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program," they said. As for the Syrian situation, both sides called for a swift destruction of the chemical weapons arsenal and confirmed their strong commitment to extend humanitarian assistance, including to refugees from and inside Syria, as well as to nation-building support for a new Syria.