Japan on Friday asked Kazakhstan to keep in line with the international community against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi made the request at a meeting with his Kazakh counterpart Mukhtar Tileuberdi in Nur-Sultan, following Kazakhstan's abstention last month from the U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning Russia.

Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi (L) shakes hands with his Kazakh counterpart Mukhtar Tileuberdi in Nur-Sultan on April 29, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Japanese Foreign Ministry)(Kyodo)

Tileuberdi, who doubles as deputy prime minister, responded by saying his country is ready to make diplomatic efforts toward a peaceful solution, according to the Japanese ministry.

Hayashi also met with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev earlier in the day. They agreed to develop the bilateral relations, the ministry said.

The Central Asian nation has maintained close relations with both Russia and Ukraine and avoided condemning Moscow over its invasion of the East European nation that began on Feb. 24.

Hayashi is on his five-day trip through Monday, during which he will also visit Uzbekistan and Mongolia.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Japan's establishment of diplomatic ties with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan following their independence from the former Soviet Union.

Tokyo has been trying to enhance economic relations with Central Asia in an apparent effort to counter the increasing influence of China, which continues to invest in large-scale infrastructure projects in the region through its "Belt and Road" initiative.

In 2004, Japan launched a foreign ministerial dialogue with five Central Asian countries, also involving Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, for regional development.

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