Shevardnadze strengthening ties with Japan
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has expressed expectations that ties between the two countries will be
improved, especially in the oil businesses.
The president is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi on March 4 and to meet Emperor Akihito on March 8, according to Japan's Foreign Ministry. It will be his first visit to Japan as the leader of the former Soviet Republic.
Shevardnadze expressed expectations for Japanese enterprises to participate in projects related to oil pipelines
which will connect oil fields in the Caspian Sea off the shores of Azerbaijan and the Black Sea via Georgia.
He emphasised that Japan and Georgia have developed a co-operative economic relationship in the past few years. Shevardnadze reiterated his support for the construction of a Mediterranean Sea route for the pipelines that would connect Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
He predicted that the route will be decided by September or October, while acknowledging that there is strong opposition to its construction among the Western enterprises participating in the project to develop oil resources.
Also, the president said he is willing to discuss with Japan a project to revive the ancient Silk Road connecting Europe and Asia via Georgia to promote tourism in the region, as well as for transporting oil and natural gas resources.
On his trip he will be accompanied by his wife, Nanuli, Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili, Minister of Fuel and Energy Teimuraz Giorgadze, Transport Minister Merab Adeishvili and Health Minister Avtandil Jorbenadze.