Japan, EU leaders agree to bolster efforts to fight terror

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Japan and the European Union agreed Tuesday to take their cooperation in the fight against international terrorism a step further by launching a meeting of senior government officials at the earliest possible date to discuss the issue in detail.

This was one of the results of a one-day summit attended by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who currently holds the rotating EU presidency, and Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission.

The meeting, held every year, was the first since the EU expanded into a 25-member entity on May 1. Participants discussed topics ranging from Iraq and North Korea to world trade and environmental issues. They issued a joint statement after their talks.

Speaking at a joint news conference after the summit, Koizumi stressed that the unanimous adoption of a United Nations Security Council resolution on Iraq earlier this month showed the international community’s willingness to stand united in the nation’s reconstruction process.

Although France and Germany, who were adamantly opposed to the U.S.-led war on Iraq, have said they will not join the multinational force to be stationed in the war-ravaged country under the resolution, Koizumi said this is an issue those countries must decide for themselves.

“It is natural for nations to vary in their ways of providing assistance,” he said.

During a working dinner that followed the brief summit, Prodi agreed with the prime minister, saying that differences of opinion regarding the dispatch of troops to Iraq would not undermine solidarity within the EU, according to a Japanese official who briefed reporters.

On North Korea, the three leaders urged the North to agree to a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear program peacefully through the six-party framework, according to a joint statement.

The two Koreas, the U.S, Japan, China and Russia have set up a forum to discuss the issue.

During Tuesday’s talks, the three leaders also voiced concern over a global network established by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb program, adding that Japan and EU should reinforce efforts to tackle illicit trafficking and procurement of weapons of mass destruction.

Japan and the EU also adopted a joint statement promoting investment and cooperation in the field of information and communication technology, as well as joint initiatives to tackle intellectual property rights in Asia and cooperation on disarmament and nonproliferation.

Center inaugurated Staff report An academic center tasked with promoting research related to the European Union was officially inaugurated Tuesday in Tokyo.

The EU Institute in Japan is operated by a consortium of four Japanese universities: Hitotsubashi University, International Christian University, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and Tsuda College.

“We want as many Japanese students as possible to learn about Europe, and not just students studying about the EU,” European Commission President Romano Prodi said in his speech at the inauguration ceremony.

The EUIJ was established with a 1 million euro grant from the European Commission and an additional 333,000 euros contributed by the consortium.

“The goal (for those who study at the institute) is simply to learn more about the European Union, to understand it and to try to forge stronger links between Japan and the EU, stronger links for mutual interest,” Prodi said.

The institute is the first of its kind to be established in Asia.