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Abe-Obama meet to be Feb. 21 or 22

Kyodo

Japan and the United States are closer to agreeing to hold a summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama on Feb. 21 or 22, Tokyo sources said Monday.

Abe, who took office in December and has expressed a strong intention to strengthen ties with the U.S. government, is now expected to leave for Washington Feb. 19.

They are likely to discuss issues including a plan for relocating a U.S. military base within Okinawa amid fierce local opposition as well as Japan’s potential participation in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade initiative, which is drawing opposition from farmers.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida visited Washington earlier this month for talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. They agreed to hold a summit in the week starting Feb. 17, according to the sources.

Tokyo had initially tried to arrange Abe’s visit in January but gave up on it given the tight schedule of Obama, who was inaugurated for his second term this month.