Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Tokyo on Sunday for talks on the Middle East peace process, Japan’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Abbas will hold discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and other senior officials during a three-day visit.

Apparently, Japan is interested to be more involved in the Middle East process.

Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura told journalists Japan was also trying to arrange a visit by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, possibly in May or June.

‘We now have a historic chance to move forward with the Middle East peace process,’ the foreign ministry statement said.

Palestinian Foreign Ministry sources reported on Monday that Abbas will seek political and economic support in Japan.

Abbas’s visit to Tokyo follows his participation in the Arab-Latin conference in Brazil.

Political sources said the absence of Arab leaders was clear.  While some claimed that the U.S. warned the Arab leaders of joining the conference, several Arab political sources denied such warnings.

This conference is the first of its kind to join Arab countries with Catholic countries, especially Latin-American ones.