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Japan, Britain to expand security ties amid N. Korea threat

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his British counterpart Theresa
May agreed Thursday their countries will strengthen security
cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, citing the threat from North
Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile development.

They also confirmed that Japan and Britain will form a "new
economic partnership" in light of the latter's withdrawal from the
European Union, but did not make a clear commitment to the kind of
two-way trade pact London is likely seeking.

Describing North Korea as a "global threat, including to Europe"
following the launch on Tuesday of a ballistic missile across Japan,
Abe told a joint press conference after the talks that he and May
agreed to seek a greater role from China, which has economic ties to
the North.

According to a joint statement announced after the meeting,
Japan and Britain will work together and with other countries "to
strengthen pressure against North Korea, including by increasing the
pace of sanctions implementation and working towards the adoption of
a new and effective resolution" at the U.N. Security Council.

The leaders committed more broadly to greater cooperation in
ensuring an international order based on the rule of law, expressing
concern over stability in the East and South China seas in an
apparent reference to China's activities there.

According to the declaration -- to be reflected in action plans
drawn up in each country -- "Japan welcomes the U.K.'s strengthened
security engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, including
through...the potential deployment of a U.K. aircraft carrier."

Abe and May also pledged to cooperate further on the transfer of
defense equipment and technology, and undertake government-wide
cooperation on counterterrorism and cybersecurity.

In a show of unity in security matters, May attended a meeting
on Thursday afternoon of Japan's National Security Council. She is
only the second foreign leader to do so after Australia's then Prime
Minister Tony Abbott in 2014.

On the economy and trade, Abe and May affirmed in a separate
joint declaration that Britain "wants a smooth and orderly transition
to its new relationship with the EU to avoid disruption," including
to Japanese companies.

Japan signaled its faith in the future of the European Union in
July when it sealed a broad agreement on a free trade deal with the

According to Thursday's declaration, Abe and May affirmed that
their "immediate priority" is to "continue to champion the early
signature and entry into force of the Japan-EU" trade accord.

"Prime Minister Abe and I have agreed that as we exit the EU, we
will work quickly to establish a new economic partnership between
Japan and the U.K. based on the final terms of that agreement," May
told the press conference.

The leaders agreed to set up a new working group on trade and
investment to seek ways to "improve market access including
non-tariff measures for both countries."

The countries will also launch a new dialogue on industrial
policy involving senior officials, focusing on cooperation in areas
such as space, aviation, energy and climate change.

Ahead of her appearance at the NSC and meeting with Abe on
Thursday, May visited the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Yokosuka base
in Kanagawa Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, and participated in a
business forum in the capital.

She is also set to meet Emperor Akihito before leaving Japan on
Friday. (Aug. 31)