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Japan offers 43 billion yen in loans to Egypt, eyes stronger ties

CAIRO (Kyodo) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday offered around 43 billion yen in loans to Egypt for airport and power grid projects, as he held talks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, the first destination of his Middle East tour.     Abe and el-Sisi agreed to enhance security dialogue by holding regular meetings between their diplomatic and defense authorities, and promote investment between the two countries, according to their joint statement issued after the talks.     Abe said Egypt's prosperity will play an important part in making the Middle East "a vibrant and stabilized" region, according to a Japanese official. El-Sisi was quoted as saying that economic development and stability are the wishes of the Egyptian people.     Abe asked el-Sisi to visit Japan by the end of the year. Tokyo and Cairo will work to realize such a visit as el-Sisi accepted the offer, according to the official.     Prior to the talks, Abe said in his speech in Cairo that stability in the Middle East is "the foundation" of global peace and stability. Japan relies heavily on the region for oil.     The yen loans announced by Abe will be spent on projects including the extension work at Borg El Arab airport, located near Egypt's second-largest city Alexandria.     Abe also offered financial support for Egypt in strengthening its border controls as part of anti-Islamic State measures, according to the Japanese official.     The two leaders also affirmed coordination over the ongoing construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is expected to be a major tourist draw when completed. Tokyo has extended loans to Egypt for the plan.     On Friday, Abe held talks with Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab to deepen bilateral ties. The Egyptian prime minister expressed willingness to resume direct flights to Japan operated by EgyptAir, and Abe welcomed it.

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