Abe to meet with about 40 African leaders during TICAD

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to hold talks with about 40 African leaders during an international conference on African development in Yokohama in June, a government source said Sunday.

The move reflects Abe's desire to regain ground lost to China, which has actively courted African governments in recent years to secure access to natural resources, according to the source.

During the talks to be held on the sidelines of the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, known as TICAD, Abe will seek cooperation against terrorism following the Algeria hostage crisis in January that resulted in the deaths of at least 40 workers, including 10 Japanese, at a remote gas facility.

Abe will also try to establish trust among African nations through offering support in infrastructure building as well as the agricultural and medical fields.

When Abe is in talks with African leaders, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori will serve as TICAD's acting chair.

During the fourth TICAD in 2008, then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda met with 41 African leaders in three days.

In a sign of China's great interest in Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tanzania, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo following the launch of his government in March.