Japanese, Georgian Foreign Ministers Meet, Discuss Enhancing Ties

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who is on his first official visit to Tbilisi on September 4-5, met today with his Georgian counterpart Davit Zalkaliani and discussed deepening of Japanese-Georgian cooperation at bilateral and regional levels.

Speaking at a joint briefing, Kono said the Caucasus region is “a gateway connecting Asia, Europe and the Middle East,” and that “stability in Caucasus is not only a matter of concern at the regional level, but essential for peace and security of international society as a whole.”

Kono then spoke on the country’s new Caucasus initiative, which is to involve two policy components – providing assistance in human resource development for state building and supporting infrastructure development and business environment improvement.

The Foreign Minister also said Japan has decided to ease the visa requirements for Georgian nationals “with a view to promoting people-to-people exchange.”

On his part, Minister Zalkaliani said the visit of his counterpart is “an important achievement of bilateral cooperation,” and an expression of Japan’s continued support for Georgia.

Zalkaliani stressed Japan has been “a strong supporter and partner” for Georgia ever since the country regained its independence in early 1990s. “Georgia and Japan are united by fundamental values – democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law,” he noted, adding that bilateral ties between the two countries “has significantly increased in recent years.”

FM Zalkaliani also said that a joint investment agreement between Japan and Georgia is nearing completion.

In Tbilisi, Foreign Minister Kono also met with Georgian President Giorgi Margevlashvili. He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze later today.

Also on September 4, Georgian Finance Minister Ivane Matchavariani and the Vice-President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Noriko Suzuki, signed a USD 343 million loan agreement for financing the construction of the Shorapani-Argveta section of the East-West highway (14.7 km).

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