Kishida, Macron agree to begin talks on security cooperation deal

The leaders of Japan and France have agreed to open talks on a deal to smooth preparations for joint exercises between Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the French military.

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio met French President Emmanuel Macron over lunch at the presidential palace in Paris on Thursday.

The leaders discussed holding bilateral talks to prepare for a possible Reciprocal Access Agreement.

Their meeting comes amid China's growing maritime activity in the Asia-Pacific. Analysts say France is seeking to reinforce security cooperation with Japan in the region in light of its overseas territories in the South Pacific, including New Caledonia.

Kishida and Macron also agreed to maintain close collaboration on other issues, such as North Korea as well as the situations in the Middle East and Ukraine.

The leaders expressed hope that exchanges between young people and others will increase through this year's Olympics and Paralympics in Paris, next year's World Exposition in Osaka and other occasions.

After completing a series of outings in France, Kishida departed for Brazil. He will also visit Paraguay before returning to Japan.