Tue, Feb 17, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Clinton reassures Japan on first leg of Asian tour

AP , TOKYO

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Tokyo to begin her first trip abroad as US President Barack Obama’s chief diplomat, said Washington’s alliance with Japan is a cornerstone for the US and warned North Korea to live up to its commitments to dismantle its nuclear programs.

She arrived in Tokyo yesterday to a large group of dignitaries, including two Japanese astronauts who flew on the US space shuttle.

Clinton is in Asia to meet with the leaders of Japan, China, South Korea and Indonesia.

“The bilateral relationship between the United States and Japan is a cornerstone in our efforts around the world,” she said. “We will be looking for ways to collaborate on issues that go beyond just our mutual concerns to really addressing global concerns.”

Clinton said the main issues on her agenda included climate change, clean energy and nuclear proliferation, along with the global financial crisis.

“I have come to Asia on my first trip as secretary of state to convey that America’s relationships across the Pacific are indispensable to addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities of the 21st century,” she said.

Her message on the plane before arrival was focused on North Korea.

“The North Koreans have already agreed to dismantling,” she said. “We expect them to fulfill the obligations that they entered into.”

During the stalled “six-party talks,” Pyongyang agreed to stop its weapons work in exchange for economic and other incentives.

Yesterday, the 67th birthday of leader Kim Jong-il, North Korea said it had the right to “space development” — a term it has used in the past to disguise a missile test as a satellite launch.

In Tokyo, Clinton will try to reassure a jittery nation of the importance the US places on ties with Japan and will sign an agreement to move about 8,000 of the 50,000 Marines from Okinawa to the US Pacific territory of Guam.

Clinton is also promising to meet with the families of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

“We do want to press the North Koreans to be more forthcoming with information,” she said.

Also See: N Korea hints at long-range test-fire

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