Rivlin and Abe
Rivlin and AbeMark Neyman (GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin held a working meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzō Abe on Monday afternoon.

Abe is in the midst of a three-day official visit to Israel - his first to the country. The visit, part of a six-day tour of the Middle East, is aimed at promoting regional stability and peace as well as boosting economic ties.

RIvlin began by congratulating Abe on his recent re-election as Prime Minister. Continuing, he noted the Japanese Prime Minister's goodwill efforts to bring peace to the Middle East. 

"Mr. Prime Minister, we know that you are making many efforts to bring peace to the whole world, and to our region.  We know you have excellent relationships with all our neighbors, and it is very important for us that as friends you can help us." 

"We are suffering a tragedy that has been going on for the last one hundred and fifty years," the President stated. 

Rivlin then stressed the importance of bilateral negotiations and not what he has previously called "evasive" unilateral moves that "violate the Oslo Accords." 

"We have to bring this conflict to an end, but this can only be done through direct negotiations – as you know very well, and you are helping us to make this understood by the Palestinians. Going to the United Nations or the International Criminal Court, in order to solve a problem that we must solve together, only makes peace more distant." 

Prime Minister Shinzō Abe responded by thanking the President for his warm welcome to Israel. 

"We believe that this is a timely visit, as it coincides with seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz," said Abe, who toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum on his visit. 

"Moreover, I am determined to never allow such tragedies to be repeated, and based on this commitment and determination, I am especially committed to making a proactive contribution to world peace, and the creation of a world free of war and discrimination."

Referring to Rivlin's remarks on the peace process, Abe commented, "Japan has been playing a role, and based on our established position, have renewed our determination to make further contributions on this front."

"Between Japan and Israel, there is a long standing bond, and I am keen to develop further our bilateral ties," the Prime Minister concluded. 

Earlier Monday, Abe met with Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahuwhere the two reaffirmed their pledges of bilateral cooperation.

Addressing Abe, Netanyahu said "your visit clearly demonstrates your own commitment to strengthening relationship between Israel and Japan. This is a commitment I fully share."

Abe is scheduled to travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.