Koizumi envoy invites Gadhafi to visit Japan

Kyodo

An envoy of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Wednesday invited Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to Japan.

The offer was made during a meeting in Libya in which Senior Vice Foreign Minister Ichiro Aisawa and Gadhafi discussed boosting bilateral ties, Japanese officials said.

Aisawa told Gadhafi that Japan is willing to boost bilateral ties, while Gadhafi responded that he would go to Japan “at a suitable time,” but did not elaborate, the officials said.

It was the first time for a senior Japanese official to meet with the Libyan leader, they said. Aisawa and Gadhafi met in Sedadah, about 200 km southeast of Tripoli.

Aisawa hailed Gadhafi’s decision in December to abandon weapons of mass destruction as “historic.” He also delivered a letter from Koizumi to Gadhafi.

They said Gadhafi also promised to continue urging North Korea to dismantle its own WMD programs.

While the North Korean media criticized Libya when it decided to give up WMD as a conciliatory move toward the United States and Britain, Pyongyang still officially maintains a cordial relationship with Tripoli.

Aisawa was originally scheduled to visit Libya in April. The trip was postponed due to the Japanese hostage crisis in Iraq.

Aisawa, who left Japan on Sunday, also visited Cairo on Monday to meet with senior officials of the Egyptian government, including an adviser to President Hosni Mubarak. They discussed Middle East issues, including the reconstruction of Iraq.