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Bush Thanks Japanese Prime Minister for Support

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2007 – President Bush thanked Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda today for his nation’s support in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The two men met in the Oval Office and then spoke to the press at the White House. It was the president’s first meeting with Fukuda since he became prime minister last month.

Bush said the United States appreciates the contribution that Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force oilers made to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

“Over six years, Japanese vessels refueled ships from 11 coalition nations nearly 800 times,” Bush said.

The authorization for the mission ran out Nov. 1, and Fukuda’s new government has not been able to get a new authorization. Bush told the prime minister that he appreciates his efforts to extend the refueling mission.

Fukuda told the president he will do his “level best” to get the refueling measure reauthorized.

In addition to refueling efforts, Bush said the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force continues to support coalition efforts in Iraq.

“Japanese planes have flown more than 600 sorties, carrying more than half a million tons of cargo from many nations,” the president said. “I appreciate the contribution that the Japanese people are making to help this young democracy.”

The two leaders discussed the on-going realignment and transformation of military and self-defense forces.

“Our two nations continue to implement changes in our force posture that will help our alliance meet the challenges of the 21st century,” Bush said.

The president said the two leaders would continue to discuss the military realignment with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who himself has just returned from a visit to Japan.

“We'll continue to work together to advance freedom, security and prosperity in our respective regions and beyond,” Bush said.

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