Blinken Returns From Japan After Expressing Condolences Over Abe

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Blinken Returns From Japan After Expressing Condolences Over Abe
The secretary of state spoke during a visit to Tokyo, describing Abe Shinzo's death as a "horrific tragedy" and praising the former prime minister.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday expressed his country's condolences following the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.

Abe, 67, was shot while giving a campaign speech in the western city of Nara on Friday and died of massive blood loss.

He was Japan's longest-serving political leader over two terms in office, and he stepped down in 2020.

Speaking during a visit to Tokyo, Blinken described Abe's death as a "horrific tragedy" and praised the former prime minister for taking the relationship between the two countries to "new heights" during his time in office.

"Prime Minister Abe was a transformative leader, a statesman, someone of truly global stature," Blinken told reporters. He added that Abe's death had shaken the G-20 meeting with many of his foreign minister colleagues expressing shock and distress at the news.

Shortly after Abe was pronounced dead, Blinken met in Bali with Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin to review strategy mainly related to North Korea. In that meeting and again on Saturday, Blinken underscored the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship.

"The alliance between Japan and the United States has been a cornerstone of our foreign policy for decades and as I said yesterday, Prime Minister Abe really brought that partnership to new heights," he said.

"The friendship between the Japanese and American people is likewise unshakable," Blinken said. "So we're standing with the people of Japan, with the prime minister's family, in the aftermath of a truly, truly appalling act of violence."

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.