Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi will seek talks with Ichiro Ozawa, head of the Liberal Party, about forming an alliance when he returns from Russia later this week, executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Monday.

Although Obuchi will also hold talks with other opposition party leaders, the LDP appears to be pinning its hopes on the Liberal Party, whose views on many key issues are the same as the LDP’s, the executives said. Takeshi Noda, secretary general of the Liberal Party, told reporters his party is ready to hold “comprehensive” talks with the LDP, including on the possibility of establishing a coalition government.

The LDP has been seeking cooperation from opposition parties so that important legislation can be smoothly passed during the next Diet session, which is slated to begin at the end of this month.

Since the governing party currently lacks a majority in the Upper House, it is being forced to compromise on legislation, especially that dealing with resuscitating the nation’s financial sector. More financial bills — including a third supplementary budget for fiscal 1998 and the selection of members of the Financial Revitalization Commission — will be deliberated during the next session.

The LDP has already launched separate policy talks with the Liberal Party, Shinto Heiwa (New Peace Party) and the newly merged New Komeito in hopes of reaching agreement on key policy issues. During the recently completed Diet session, key bank-recapitalization legislation was passed only after being rewritten by opposition politicians, much to the LDP’s dismay.

At a regular press conference on Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said the LDP executives have basically agreed that it will be important to hold meetings with the top opposition leaders while Obuchi is in Moscow this week and to brief Obuchi upon his return. “We need to have a meeting of the secretaries general, instead of just at the level of the chairmen of the Diet affairs committees from the respective parties,” Nonaka said. “And once a suitable opportunity emerges, we will ask the prime minister to hold talks with the opposition leaders.”

Nonaka said Obuchi will call for talks with the Liberal Party, New Komeito and the Social Democratic Party. The LDP will also invite Democratic Party leader Naoto Kan to meet with Obuchi, Nonaka said.

Although Nonaka did not emphasize the relationship with the Liberal Party, he has made a number of remarks in the past few weeks indicating that the LDP will be better off if it can cooperate with the Liberal Party. But many LDP members, including former LDP Secretary General Koichi Kato, have shown reluctance to cooperate with Ozawa, who defected from the LDP with a group of other members in 1993.

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