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Japan, S. Korea leaders to strengthen economic ties.

SEOUL, March 19 Kyodo

Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said Friday he expects Saturday's summit talks with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung to produce a series of measures aimed at strengthening economic relations between the two countries.

"I want to strengthen bilateral partnership on the economic front," based on a Japan-South Korea joint declaration signed last year by the two leaders, Obuchi told reporters on a government jet taking him on a three-day official visit to Seoul.

The joint statement, issued when Kim visited Japan in October, calls for building a "firm friendly relationship in the 21st century" between Japan and South Korea.

The "Japan-South Korea economic agenda," which will be adopted Saturday, will cover five areas, including the promotion of investment between the two countries and cooperation in the field of intellectual property rights, Japanese officials said.

Under the agenda, Japan and South Korea will work to conclude a bilateral investment pact at an early date, and start studying ways to simplify trade procedures, the officials said.

It also calls for promoting cooperation between the two countries toward the next round of multilateral trade talks under the World Trade Organization, they said. Japan and South Korea will hold working-level talks to this end in May or June.

On North Korea, Obuchi said Japan, South Korea and the United States can effectively deal with the country if they take concerted steps.

"Domestic circumstances in Japan, South Korea and the U.S. are different, and there may not be a need (for them) to take exactly the same policies," Obuchi said. "But I think it is important to take effective and coordinated steps."

Obuchi said it is significant for the two leaders to meet in the wake of the agreement reached between the U.S. and North Korea this week to allow U.S. access to a suspected underground nuclear facility in the North.

The agreement, reached Tuesday after four rounds of high-level talks since November, allows multiple visits by U.S. inspectors to the site in return for food aid.

Obuchi reiterated his desire for Japan to participate in the U.S. inspections, but said such visits must first be conducted by the U.S.

"Japanese people would feel relieved if Japan can confirm" that the facility is not for nuclear purposes, Obuchi said.

During the summit, Obuchi and Kim are expected to exchange opinions on realizing a state visit to South Korea by Japanese Emperor Akihito.

The two nations have agreed to work toward realizing the first-ever visit to Korea by a Japanese emperor, which has so far been materialized because of lingering ill feelings among the two nations stemming from Japan's 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

After the summit Saturday, Obuchi will make a policy speech at Korea University, where he will call for the establishment of a Japan-South Korea partnership in the next century, the officials said.

On Sunday, he will visit the Haein Temple in Hapchon, South Kyongsang Province, which has more than 80,000 wooden blocks engraved with Buddhist scriptures.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 1999
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