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Japan promises to study Mexican free trade proposal.

TOKYO, Feb. 21 Kyodo (EDS: UPDATING WITH KONO-GREEN MEETING) Foreign Minister Yohei Kono promised Monday to study a proposal made by visiting Mexican Foreign Minister Rosario Green to conclude a bilateral free-trade agreement (FTA), a Japanese official said.

"We will study it...but we have been taking a cautious stance, although we have also received FTA proposals from other nations," Kono was quoted as telling Green during their hourlong meeting.

Other countries proposing FTA agreements with Japan include Singapore and South Korea.

Green, who arrived Saturday for a four-day visit, expressed her hope that an FTA would be realized with Japan, but also conveyed her understanding about Japan's careful approach, the official told reporters.

At a news conference earlier in the day, Green said a proposed agreement with Japan would benefit both countries.

Green said it would complement Mexico's efforts to expand such arrangements and allow Japan to take advantage of Mexico's free-trade network.

Mexico, which launched the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 with the United States and Canada, agreed to conclude a bilateral FTA with the European Union last year and will also sign an FTA with Israel during an upcoming visit by Mexican President Ernest Zedillo to that country, she said.

Mexico has also concluded free-trade agreements with six Central and South American countries, and is negotiating FTA arrangements with six more countries in the region, she said.

Kono and Green agreed to strengthen economic and political ties between the two nations, and to actively promote personnel exchanges, the official said.

The two ministers also reaffirmed cooperation toward an early launch of the next round of multilateral trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization, while citing the need to address concerns expressed by developing nations.

They also agreed to continue cooperating on U.N. reform, with Green reiterating Mexico's support for Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, the official said.

But Green noted that Mexico is opposed to giving veto rights to the council's new permanent members, and even wants to limit the veto powers of the current five permanent members, the official said.

Green earlier paid a courtesy call to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and invited the premier to visit Mexico before Mexican President Zedillo's term ends in November, the official said.

Obuchi told Green that he wants to make the visit, but noted it is also a general election year in Japan. Mexico is to hold a presidential election in July.

Green also conveyed to Obuchi a message from Zedillo expressing hope for success at July's summit of the Group of Eight nations in Okinawa.

"We hope discussions for resolving many problems of the world will be held at the summit," Green was quoted as saying.

She also met Prince Akishino and his wife, Princess Kiko, on Monday.
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Comment:Japan promises to study Mexican free trade proposal.
Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Feb 28, 2000
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