Abe security adviser Koike to visit Libya next week

by Hiroko Nakata

Yuriko Koike, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s special adviser on national security, will visit Libya next week to strengthen ties with the Islamic country, which has ended its quest for weapons of mass destruction.

The visit is part of her planned trip to the Middle East from Tuesday to Dec. 11 to attend an international conference of diplomacy and defense experts in Bahrain that will be hosted by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Koike will deliver a speech on relations between Gulf nations and Asia.

Denuclearization is of key interest to the government at a time when the U.S., Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan are trying to schedule the next round of six-party talks to compel North Korea to give up its atomic weapons program. Pyongyang carried out its first nuclear test on Oct. 9.

“With North Korea’s nuclear issues in mind, adviser Koike plans to exchange opinions with Libya, which abandoned its weapons of mass destruction programs,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told reporters Friday.

Koike, a TV anchor-turned-politician, graduated from Cairo University and has expertise in Middle East affairs. She will also visit Qatar.

Government officials said Koike may meet Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. She is also likely to discuss whether the Republican losses in the U.S. midterm election on Nov. 7 affects U.S. relations with the Middle East, they said.

In 2003, Libya abandoned its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and missile programs after 11 years of sanctions and diplomatic pressure from the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council.