Trump and new Japan PM Suga discuss ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’

Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga and US President Donald Trump discussed the importance of their countries’ alliance in phone talks on Sunday. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 21 September 2020

Trump and new Japan PM Suga discuss ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’

  • Suga on Wednesday became Japan’s first new leader in nearly eight years
  • He said Trump told him they should further develop the Japan-US alliance together

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Sunday spoke to Japan's new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, to congratulate him on taking office and to discuss a "free and open Indo-Pacific" region, which is increasingly dominated by China.
"The two leaders discussed the importance of pursuing our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, continuing to strengthen the United States-Japan Alliance, and working together to strengthen the global economy," the White House said in a statement.
China is locked in disputes with neighbors including Japan and Vietnam over islands in the South China Sea.
Beijing's expanding military presence in the region has worried several of its neighbors, and Washington has vowed to stand up against its territorial claims.
Japan's parliament elected Suga, 71, as the country's first new leader in nearly eight years on Wednesday.
He said he would seek continued strong ties with Washington and stable relations with China and Russia.
He also pledged to continue the work of former leader Shinzo Abe, whose signature "Abenomics" program involved vast government spending and monetary easing, and attempts to cut red tape.
After the phone conversation Suga told reporters that he informed Trump that the alliance with Washington is the "cornerstone of peace and stability in the region," Japan's Kyodo News reported.
In their 25-minute talk, Trump and Suga also talked about the situation in North Korea. The Japanese leader asked for US support to push for the return of Japanese nationals kidnapped by the North Koreans in the 1970s and 80s, Kyodo reported.


Suicide bomber kills 18 in Afghan capital

Updated 24 October 2020

Suicide bomber kills 18 in Afghan capital

  • There has been an upsurge in violence between Taliban and Afghan forces in the country
  • The US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February, opening up a path toward withdrawing American troops from the conflict

KABUL: A suicide bomber struck near an education centre in the Afghan capital on Saturday, killing at least 18 people in the latest attack to rock the conflict-wracked country.
Violence on the ground has spiked in recent weeks despite the Taliban and the Afghan government holding peace talks in Qatar to end the country's grinding war.
The suicide attack, which also wounded 57, happened late afternoon at the centre, which offers training and courses for students in higher education in a western district of Kabul.
"A suicide bomber wanted to enter the education centre," Tareq Arian, spokesman for the interior ministry, said in a statement.
"But he was identified by the centre's guards after which he detonated his explosives in an alley."
He said the attack had left at least 18 people dead and 57 wounded.
"I was standing about 100 metres from the centre when a big blast knocked me down," said local resident Ali Reza, who had gone to hospital with his cousin who was wounded in the blast.
"Dust and smoke was all around me. All those killed and wounded were students who wanted to enter the centre."
Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack.
Residents in several districts of western Kabul belong to the minority Shiite Hazara community, often targeted by Daesh militants. 
In the past, extremists have targeted several education centres and other facilities in the area.
In May, a group of gunmen launched a brazen daylight attack on a hospital in west Kabul that left several mothers dead. The gunmen were shot dead after hours of fighting with security forces.