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Middle Eastern nations condemn assassination of ex-Japan PM

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a speech at the EU - ASIA Connectivity Forum in Brussels, Belgium on September 27, 2019. [Dursun Aydemir - Anadolu Agency]
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a speech at the EU - ASIA Connectivity Forum in Brussels, Belgium on September 27, 2019. [Dursun Aydemir - Anadolu Agency]

A number of Middle Eastern states have condemned the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe this week, hailing his contribution to the strengthening of Japan's relations with the region.

Lat Friday morning, Abe was shot in his neck and shoulder while he spoke at a campaign event in Japan's southern city of Nara, succumbing to his injuries at a hospital hours later. The assassin, a 41-year-old man who was apprehended following the firing of his homemade gun, reportedly carried out the attack due to grievances over the former leader's religious affiliations.

Following the assassination, world leaders and prominent figures condemned the crime and paid their condolences to Japan and the former prime minister's family. One of those leaders was Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said on Twitter that "I feel great sadness over the death of my valuable friend Shinzo Abe, Japan's former prime minister, after an armed attack," which he called "hideous."

Iran also condemned the killing, with the spokesman for its Foreign Ministry stating that "As a country that has been a victim of terrorism and has lost great leaders to terrorists, we are following the news on the assassination of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, closely and with concern."

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From Saudi Arabia, King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman separately sent cables to current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, with the King saying "We received the news of the death of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzo Abe, and we express to you, the family of the deceased, and your friendly people, our deepest condolences and most sincere sympathy."

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs also called the attack a "cowardly act that contradicts moral and humanitarian values," reiterating Riyadh's solidarity with the Japanese government and people.

Several other countries in the region expressed their condemnation and condolences, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

Throughout the years of his premiership, Abe took a proactive role in building up and strengthening Japan's relations with Middle Eastern countries, paying visits to a number of them and enhancing cooperation in various fields. Under his leadership, Tokyo offered Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia assistance in reducing dependency on oil profits, attempted to remain a neutral player in the tensions between the United States and Iran, and attempted to be a mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

READ: Japan pursues regional diplomacy to defuse Gulf tensions

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