• Kyodo

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— Japan and the United States plan to create a new sub-Cabinet-level consultative framework to coordinate policy on regional and defense issues, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and U.S. President George W. Bush will likely reach an agreement on the proposed framework when they meet June 30 at Camp David, the sources said.

The consultative framework is meant to deepen coordination between the two countries on matters ranging from Bush’s missile defense plans to regional issues involving North Korea and China, and reinforce the Japan-U.S. alliance, the sources said.

Deputy Vice Foreign Minister Ryozo Kato will lead the Japanese side and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will lead the U.S. team, the sources said. They will hold consultations every two or three months, the sources said.

Officials from the U.S. Defense Department and the Japanese Defense Agency will be invited to take part in the consultations, the sources said, adding that the framework will likely cover issues related to U.S. bases in Okinawa.

The new framework will consider setting up subgroups to deal with specific issues, the sources said.

On the trade front, Japan and the U.S. are in the final phase of talks to set up a new sub-Cabinet-level panel, tentatively called the trade commission.

Powell visit expected

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will probably visit Japan and South Korea during a trip to Vietnam in July for a regional security meeting, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

Powell is expected to represent the United States at the ministerial meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, which is scheduled to take place in Hanoi in late July.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations comprises Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The visit to Japan — Powell’s first since the administration of President George W. Bush began in January — was initially tapped for June.

That prospect dimmed after Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka indicated she would like to meet with Powell prior to the June 30 summit between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Bush at the U.S. presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., the sources said.

The State Department said Tuesday it will be possible for Powell to meet with Tanaka in Washington before Koizumi travels to the U.S. capital.

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