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Japan, New Zealand Agree to Share Intel06/20 06:18


   TOKYO (AP) -- Japan and New Zealand agreed Wednesday in principle on an 
intelligence sharing pact as their leaders shared concerns over the 
increasingly challenging security environment in the region, including closer 
ties between Russia and North Korea.

   In a joint statement, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his New Zealand 
counterpart Christopher Luxon expressed concern about rising tension in the 
South China Sea, where China has become increasingly assertive in pressing its 
territorial claims.

   Kishida and Luxon "welcomed the agreement in principle of an information 
security agreement" to facilitate classified information sharing, according to 
the statement released by Japan's Foreign Ministry.

   The two leaders also agreed to accelerate talks toward signing a pact that 
would allow the two countries' forces to share logistical support and supplies 
during bilateral training and other operations.

   Under Japan's 2022 national security strategy the country has been 
accelerating military buildup and expanding defense partnerships amid threats 
from China, North Korea and Russia.

   Kishida and Luxon condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the increasing 
military cooperation between North Korea and Russia, including the North's 
shipment to Russia of ballistic missiles used against Ukraine, the joint 
statement said.

   "There is no more important time than right now for our two countries to be 
engaging together to understand and to respond to the serious regional issues 
in Japan's neighborhood," Luxon told a joint news conference after the talks. 
He said the two leaders discussed Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to 
Pyongyang and "how North Korea is fueling Russia's illegal war in Ukraine."

   Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday signed an agreement 
that pledged mutual aid if either country faces "aggression," at a summit held 
at a time both face escalating standoffs from the West.

   Putin's visit was his first in 24 years as the United States and its allies 
expressed growing concerns over a possible arms arrangement in which Pyongyang 
provides Moscow with badly needed munitions for its war in Ukraine, in exchange 
for economic assistance and technology transfers that could enhance the threat 
posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile program.

   Japan has signed similar intelligence agreements with eight other countries 
including the United States, Australia, Britain, India and South Korea, as well 
as with NATO. Japan is also negotiating with Canada over a similar deal and has 
agreed with Ukraine to start talks.

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