Sat, Apr 22, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Barroso opens talks on Iran, East Asian security and WTO


European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso opened wide-ranging talks in Japan yesterday on the Iranian nuclear crisis, East Asian security and deadlocked global trade negotiations.

Barroso began his five-day visit with a courtesy call on Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Koizumi and Barroso will take part in a three-way summit on Monday with Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel of Austria, the current EU president.

The EU bloc and Japan, which together account for 40 percent of global GDP, could be crucial in unblocking the WTO talks.

There is growing concern that the 149-nation WTO will miss a deadline at the end of the month to thrash out a trade liberalization deal.

Japan said it would use the talks to renew its objections to EU plans to resume selling weapons to China, which were suspended following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

"We'd like to make sure that the EU understands our security concerns on the possible destabilization of military power if the EU resumes arms exports to China," a Japanese foreign ministry official said.

"Urgent global issues such as Iran's nuclear program, energy and other environmental issues are also expected to be discussed," he added.

Japan, which is almost entirely dependent on foreign oil, is a major investor in Iran and maintains close ties with the Islamic regime.

The EU big three of the UK, France and Germany led more than two years of negotiations that failed to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program.

Barroso said on Thursday that the Tokyo talks, the 15th such EU-Japan summit, would provide "an important opportunity to further develop our strategic partnership with Japan.

"I want to take our relationship to the next level. In particular we can further intensify our political cooperation," he said.

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