Clinton seeks economic cooperation, warns North Korea (Lead)

February 17th, 2009 - 2:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaTokyo, Feb 17 (DPA) US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday reaffirmed Japan’s status as a key Pacific ally, particularly in efforts to pressure North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons programmes, and called for a coordinated response to the global economic downturn.

She also warned that North Korea’s threat to test-fire a long-range missile would “be very unhelpful”.

“The alliance between the US and Japan is a cornerstone of our foreign policy,” Clinton said at a press conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone.

Japan was the first stop on Clinton’s first overseas trip as the top US diplomat, and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso was also scheduled to be the first foreign leader to visit US President Barack Obama at the White House. The Japanese leader was to travel to Washington Feb 24.

“Working together to deal with the multitude of issues that affect not only Asia but the entire world is the high priority of the Obama administration,” Clinton said.

After their talks Tuesday, Clinton and Nakasone signed an accord on the transfer of 8,000 US military personnel and their families from the southern Japanese island of Okinawa to the US territory of Guam by 2014.

Clinton cited the military relocation as an example showing that Washington and Tokyo enjoy a “strong and vibrant alliance”.

While discussing the global financial crisis, the two top diplomats agreed that the world’s largest and second-largest economies understand the need for a coordinated global response, Clinton said.

Japan and the US confirmed the importance of close coordination in six-nation talks aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Besides the US and Japan, those talks involve China, the two Koreas and Russia.

“We must advance our efforts to secure the complete and verifiable denuclearisation of North Korea,” Clinton said.

On anti-terrorism cooperation, Clinton said the United States appreciated Japan’s assistance to the US-led coalition mission in Afghanistan, for which it provides refuelling support in the Indian Ocean.

But Clinton was expected to ask Japan to step up its military assistance in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan when she meets with Aso and Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada later in the day.

Clinton arrived Monday in Tokyo to start an Asian tour, which has later stops in Indonesia, South Korea and China. She was scheduled to leave Japan Wednesday.

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