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Clinton Meets Japanese Leaders on First Leg of Asian Tour

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2009 – The American alliance with Japan is the cornerstone of security in Asia, Hillary Rodham Clinton said during her first trip as secretary of state.

Clinton discussed North Korea and commended Japan for its efforts in contributing to stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan during a joint news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone in Tokyo yesterday. In addition to Japan, Clinton will visit Indonesia, South Korea and China.

Clinton and Nakasone discussed the problem North Korea poses to peace in the region. The two discussed the Six-Party Talks with North Korea and the importance of close coordination in those negotiations. The talks -- with South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States -- seek to engage North Korea and convince leaders to shut down its nuclear weapons production system and stop proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"We must advance our efforts to secure the complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea," Clinton said. "The possible missile launch that North Korea is talking about would be very unhelpful in moving our relationship forward."

Clinton urged North Korea to abide by denuclearization agreements it already has approved. If the communist north does that, "there will be a reciprocal response, certainly from the United States: a chance to normalize relations, to enter into a peace treaty rather than an armistice and to expect assistance for the people of North Korea," she said. "So it is truly up to the North Koreans."

The secretary commended Japan for its contributions to building stability and prosperity in Pakistan and Afghanistan, including Japan’s cooperation with Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

"It's been very important for our overall success of the coalition mission in Afghanistan," she said.

Clinton invited Japan’s participation in the White House review of Afghan strategy. "I invited the minister to have someone work with us on our policy review of Afghanistan and Pakistan, because we want to have the benefit of the experience of the Japanese involvement as we go forward to determine the approach that we will be taking," she said.

She also thanked the Japanese people for the dispatch of two Japanese naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden to join the multinational anti-piracy effort.

Nakasone said through an interpreter that the United States and Japan see many of the challenges in Asia the same way.

"We agreed to aim at building an affluent, stable and open East Asian region, and in that, we shared the hope that China will play a constructive role in the international community," Nakasone said.

Japan is a treaty ally of the United States, and Clinton reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan, including nuclear deterrents, the foreign minister said.

The two also discussed the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan and signed the Guam Agreement that will help transfer 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

"We agreed that we will steadily implement this realignment on the basis of a roadmap from the viewpoint of alleviating burdens on Okinawa and local communities while maintaining deterrence," Nakasone said.

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Biographies:
Hillary Rodham Clinton

Related Sites:
State Department Background Note on Japan



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