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3RD LD: Koizumi, Wen to meet in Laos on Tues.

VIENTIANE, Nov. 27 Kyodo


Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will hold a bilateral meeting Tuesday in Vientiane, Laos, on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

The talks will start at 10:25 a.m. local time, the ministry said in a statement.

Japan earlier thought of forgoing the meeting because Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao met earlier this week on the fringes of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Chile, but has agreed with a Chinese offer for a Koizumi-Wen meeting in Laos, Japanese officials said.

The talks are expected to focus on cooperating toward improving strained ties between Japan and China due to outstanding issues, which include visits to Yasukuni Shrine by Koizumi, and discussing a resolution of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

During the Santiago meeting with Koizumi, Hu lodged a strong protest against the Japanese premier's repeated visits to the Tokyo shrine that honors convicted Japanese war criminals along with Japanese war dead.

China has put mutual visits by top leaders of the two countries on hold since October 2001 because of the shrine trips. Koizumi has since met with Chinese leaders only on the sidelines of international gatherings.

The last time Koizumi held official talks with Wen was in October last year at the ASEAN summit. Just last month, Koizumi and Wen met at the Asia-Europe meeting in Vietnam but the two leaders only talked for a few minutes.

Koizumi will leave Japan on Sunday for Vientiane, where he is also expected to hold trilateral talks with Wen and South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun and a summit with ASEAN leaders.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Nov 29, 2004
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