Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) and his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad (Source: nst.com.my)

Hanoi (VNA) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad agreed to step up cooperation in achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific region based on the rule of law during their meeting in Tokyo on May 31.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said that the leaders also agreed to deepen bilateral relations with Kuala Lumpur's economic development policy modeled after Japan at their core.

Abe told Mahathir that "the 'Look East' policy has been the beacon leading Japan and Malaysia to strengthen friendship and enhance bilateral ties.

"I look forward to reaffirming our commitment with Prime Minister Mahathir to update our partnership to suit the new era and develop our relations at multiple levels and in various fields and sectors," Abe said.

Mahathir spoke highly of Japan's assistance, including the provision of yen loans, adding he hopes such "support will continue into the future."

When Mahathir served as prime minister between 1981 and 2003, he launched the Look East policy of learning from Japan's work ethic and economic growth.

The Malaysian Prime Minister is in Japan to attend a two-day conference on the Future of Asia.-VNA