TOKYO, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will kick off his five-day trips to three European countries, namely Belgium, Italy and Vatican, for a summit of the Group of Seven (G7) and economic ties with the European Union, said top government spokesman Monday.
Abe will meet G7 leaders in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday to exchange opinions on world economy, energy issue and current crisis in Ukraine, said Yoshihide Suga, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, at a press conference.
The G7 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. It will be held instead of the Group of Eight with exclusion of Russia as the seven countries protest against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis.
Abe will meet his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi with a focus on ongoing free trade talks between Japan and the European Union as Italy will assume the presidency of the 28-nation bloc in July.
Abe's Italian visit marks the first to the southern European country by a Japanese prime minister since 2009.
The prime minister is expected to meet Pope Francis when he is in Vatican.