Japan's prime minister and leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Shinzo Abe addresses a news conference in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: REUTERS/TORU HANAI
Japan's prime minister and leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Shinzo Abe addresses a news conference in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: REUTERS/TORU HANAI

Tokyo — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel share a responsibility to work towards global peace and prosperity, with both hoping for a prompt, democratic solution to Venezuela’s leadership crisis.

Merkel, on a two-day visit to Japan, said Germany recognises opposition leader Juan Guaido as the nation’s interim president, joining many European nations, and said he should organise new elections as soon as possible.

“Guaido is the person with whom we are talking and who we expect to initiate an election process as quickly as possible, and he is the legitimate interim president for this task from the German perspective and also from the perspective of many European partners,” Merkel told a news conference with Abe.

“And we hope that this process is as short as possible and of course peaceful,” she added.

Abe emphasised his co-operation with Merkel during a visit aimed at forging an “alliance of multilateralists” to resist US President Donald Trump’s “America First” approach to trade and China’s pursuit of narrow national interests.

“Our responsibility towards working for global prosperity and security has merely increased,” he said, adding that the two leaders would work for a global order “based on rules”.

Merkel referred to an EU-Japan trade deal that entered into force on February 1, saying: “All in all, a trip at a time in which we have demonstrated that, even at times when multilateral agreements are in difficult straits, we are ready to conclude such things.”

Abe did not comment on Guaido’s status, but he said Japan wants  a stable, democratic and prompt solution to Venezuela’s political crisis. Several European nations have joined the US in recognising Guaido as interim president, intensifying a global showdown over Nicolas Maduro’s socialist rule.

Merkel said Germany will do everything possible to avoid a no-deal Brexit, but she does not want to see Britain’s divorce deal with the EU — the so-called withdrawal agreement — renegotiated.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday she will seek a “pragmatic solution” to a parliamentary impasse over the terms on which Britain leaves the EU when she tries to reopen talks with Brussels less than two months before Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29.

“There are definitely options for preserving the integrity of the single market, even when Northern Ireland isn’t part of it because it is part of Britain, while at the same time meeting the desire to have if possible no border controls,” Merkel said.

“To solve this point you have to be creative and listen to each other, and such discussions can and must be conducted,” she added. “We can still use the time to perhaps reach an agreement if everyone shows good will.”

Reuters