Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on Monday denied news reports that he told the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Ryutaro Hashimoto he would convey Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka’s remarks over the missile defense plan to the United States.
In a statement released by the Australian Embassy in Tokyo, Downer said, “Any suggestion that I told Mr. Hashimoto that Australia would be passing information on my discussions with Ms. Tanaka to the United States is a complete fabrication.”
While Downer said he “deeply regrets” the distortion and misrepresentation in media reports, he did not deny that the two ministers discussed the U.S. missile defense plan or that Tanaka had concerns about the plan.
“Both Australia and Japan’s positions of understanding the United States’ rationale for a missile defense system are well-known,” Downer said.
Vice Minister Yutaka Kawashima told a news conference Monday that he understands that Downer’s statement is correct but declined to detail the conversation between Tanaka and Downer.
Kawashima explained that Tanaka’s statement on Saturday was made as an individual.
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