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Abe plans to visit Ireland to accelerate trade talks with EU


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to visit Ireland in June as part of his efforts to accelerate talks for a free trade agreement with the European Union, Japanese officials said Friday.

Abe will become the first Japanese premier to visit Ireland, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the 27-member European Union. The trip is expected to come around the time of his visit to Britain to attend the Group of Eight summit scheduled for June 17 and 18.

He will meet with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, with the agenda likely involving enhancing the Japan-EU partnership after they started in April negotiations to create a free trade area that accounts for more than a third of global economic output.

This will be the first meeting between Japanese and Irish premiers since January 2009.

Abe is also expected to visit Poland on June 16 for talks with leaders from the Visegrad Group of Eastern European nations, also involving the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

The series of foreign visits come as Abe tries to increase Japanese exports under his economic growth strategy. He has recently visited emerging economies such as Russia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, where the premier has aggressively promoted products ranging from agricultural crops to atomic power plants.