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Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe hosts Ramadan dinner for Muslim nations
Thursday August 1, 2013 8:55 PM, Agencies

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invited representatives from over 35 Muslim nations on Wednesday for an iftar, the post sunset meal when Muslims break fast..

The Japanese foreign ministry said the event hoped to promote mutual understanding between Japan and the Islamic world, news agency Reuters reported.

Abe has visited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey in late April and early May, and said he would like to travel to more Muslim countries in the future.

"Through my visits, I have reconfirmed Japan's ties with the Islamic world. I would like to visit Islamic countries in the near future and further strengthen our friendship."

Algerian ambassador Ali Qutranji, who was representing the diplomatic corps of Islamic countries, welcomed the warm relations.

"We sense it as a celebration of growing closeness and as a reaffirmation of common will to enhance mutually beneficial cooperation."

Representatives from Syria were absent from the event for the second year in a row.

Japan hasn't invited Syria to the dinner since 2012 due to its disapproval of President Bashar al-Assad's regime during the Syrian conflict.

This is the ninth year the event has been hosted, with former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi first holding iftar meals for the Islamic diplomatic community in 2005.

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