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LEAD: Koizumi to visit U.S., Mideast from May 22.

TOKYO, May 8 Kyodo


Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will make a five-day trip to the United States, Saudi Arabia and Egypt from May 22 for talks with their leaders to discuss Iraq and North Korea, top government spokesman Yasuo Fukuda said Thursday.

Koizumi will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush on May 23 at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, to discuss how to help rebuild Iraq and deal with North Korea as well as bilateral ties, the chief cabinet secretary told reporters.

Koizumi told reporters later in the day he wants to tell Bush in the summit that Japan believes it necessary to help ''build international cooperation with America, Britain as well as the United Nations in the reconstruction of Iraq.''

The premier also said at his office he would ask for Bush's cooperation to settle North Korea's past abductions of Japanese nationals, a key diplomatic concern for Japan and an issue it wants solved before it normalizes ties with the North.

For Japan, North Korea-related issues do not only mean nuclear weapons development programs and ballistic missiles, he said. ''The abductions are as important.''

Koizumi's planned summit with Bush comes after the premier agreed on the need for global cooperation in helping Iraq with European leaders in his trip from late April to earlier this month.

Koizumi enlisted full support for Tokyo's efforts to settle North Korean issues from the leaders such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder as well as European Commission President Romano Prodi.

''I'll tell (Bush I believe) it would be difficult to deal with North Korea unless Japan, the U.S. and South Korea work together'' as well as China and Russia, Koizumi said.

The premier will directly fly from Texas to the Middle East and discuss the reconstruction of Iraq and how to stabilize the region with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Fukuda said.

Koizumi decided to visit Saudi Arabia and Egypt as they play leading roles in stabilizing and creating peace in the Middle East, the spokesman said.

North Korea abducted a number of Japanese people in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but only five of the victims have returned to Japan.

Slow progress in settling the series of kidnappings and disputes between Japan and North Korea over the fates of other victims has prevented the two countries from normalizing ties.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:9NORT
Date:May 13, 2003
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