Japan’s Abe meets Fidel Castro, seeks Cuba’s help in taming North Korea

Saturday, 24 September 2016 - 10:08

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has called on Cuba, one of North Korea’s allies, to denounce the country’s troubling nuclear program and use leverage to stop it, as he met with the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in Havana during his first-ever visit to the country.

Abe has become the first Japanese leader to come to the island state since the Cuban revolution of the 1950s, spearheaded by Castro, who served as president for four decades. The visit falls in line with the strategy of gradual rapprochement with the West pursued by Fidel’s younger brother and Cuba’s current leader, Raul Castro. The policy reached its culminating point with US President Barack Obama traveling to the country in March on an official state visit, the first by a US leader in 88 years.

Prior to the ongoing UN General Assembly session, Japan’ s PM vowed to “take the leadership toward a new UN resolution” on North Korea, which had recently carried out its fifth nuclear test in violation of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. While addressing the session he called the danger posed by the North’s nuclear rapid nuclear development "substantially more serious" than ever.

The issue was also high on the agenda during more than an hour-long meeting with Fidel Castro on Thursday.

"The PM pointed out the necessity [for] the international community to respond to this [North Korea’s nuclear test] rigorously in unity," Japan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yasuhisa Kawamura said after the meeting.