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Koizumi to discuss Iraq, N. Korea on U.S., Mideast tour.

TOKYO, May 21 Kyodo

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is set to depart Thursday on a whirlwind trip to the United States, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to discuss international cooperation in rebuilding postwar Iraq and to address North Korean issues.

''I was able to secure a good amount of time for the talks (with U.S. President George W. Bush) so I want to discuss Iraq, North Korea...and economic issues in a candid, frank and thorough manner,'' Koizumi told reporters Wednesday evening.

Koizumi will leave Tokyo on a government plane Thursday afternoon and arrive the same day at U.S. President George W. Bush's private ranch in Crawford, Texas for an overnight stay, Japanese government officials said.

In the talks Friday morning, the two leaders are expected to discuss North Korea's nuclear standoff, possibly reaffirming their intention to seek a peaceful resolution to the reclusive nation's suspected nuclear weapons program.

Koizumi will also likely seek U.S. cooperation in resolving matters pertaining to North Korea's abduction of Japanese, including having the families of repatriated abductees come to Japan and getting more information from the North about those said to have died.

Pyongyang has admitted abducting or luring 13 Japanese to the country in the late 1970s and early 1980s and said eight of them have died. The other five returned to Japan in October.

On Iraq, Koizumi is expected to emphasize the need for the global community to join hands in supporting the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country, particularly in view of the difference between the U.S. and some European countries over whether military operations were necessary, the officials said.

In addition, Koizumi and Bush are expected to discuss ways to attain peace between Israel and Palestinians to bring stability to the Middle Eastern region and trade views on how to enhance bilateral ties further.

On the economic front, the prime minister will talk about his continued structural reform efforts, his resolve to stabilize Japan's banking system and explain about the state's recent bailout of Resona Bank, a major commercial bank, the officials said.

Following the summit and lunch with Bush and his wife Laura, Koizumi will depart from Texas for Cairo, where he will arrive on Saturday for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that evening.

Koizumi is expected to propose to Mubarak a joint project Japan is considering with Egypt to provide medical support to Iraq as part of efforts to help it rebuild following the U.S.-led war there, a Japanese government source said.

The next morning, he will tour Cairo University Pediatric Hospital, built in the early 1980s with Japanese aid, then visit the pyramids, before flying to Riyadh for an afternoon meeting with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah.

The prime minister's talks with Mubarak and Crown Prince Abdullah will cover not only the rebuilding of Iraq, but also the Middle East peace process and promoting increased dialogue between Japan and the Arab society, the officials said.

Koizumi will leave the Saudi capital Sunday night and arrive back in Tokyo on Monday afternoon.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:May 27, 2003
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