WASHINGTON – U.S. President George W. Bush told Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka on Monday that he wants to discuss bilateral security, economic relations and global warming with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi when they meet at Camp David, Md., this month.
Bush also said he wants to discuss U.S.-Russia relations, Tanaka told a news conference after completing a series of meetings with top Bush administration officials.
Tanaka expressed appreciation for the president’s surprise appearance in the middle of her talks with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice at the White House, saying: “It shows how important the U.S. thinks Japan (is). I feel I was very warmly received overall.”
She spoke with Secretary of State Colin Powell at the State Department after calling on Rice and meeting separately with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.
The spate of high-level talks were to pave the way for the first Koizumi-Bush summit on June 30 at Camp David.
Bush, accompanied by Vice President Dick Cheney, told Tanaka the United States wants to join hands with Japan to address global warming, according to U.S. administration officials.
Bush has vowed to ditch the 1997 Kyoto accord on global warming, which would place binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions by industrialized countries, saying it would hurt the U.S. economy. Powell reaffirmed the U.S. stance on the Kyoto pact, saying that while it is “not acceptable,” Washington has yet to come up with an acceptable alternative to effectively address the environmental issue, Tanaka said.
Tanaka said she and Powell recognized the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance, adding that Powell pledged to strive to reduce the burden of the U.S. military presence in Japan — a matter of key concern in Okinawa, which hosts the majority of U.S. forces in Japan.
Powell’s pledge was in response to Tanaka’s proposal that Tokyo and Washington review the “benefits and burdens” of the Japan-U.S. security alliance, she said.
Responding to Tanaka’s requests on Okinawa, which included a proposal that drills by Japan-based U.S. Marines be rotated abroad, Powell said he will convey her thoughts to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Tanaka said.
Powell reportedly said issues relating to the U.S. military presence in Japan, such as accidents and incidents involving U.S. service members and adverse environmental effects on areas close to bases, are a source of “headaches.”
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Powell welcomed Japan’s role in international peacekeeping and encouraged Tokyo to take on whatever role it is prepared to assume in international affairs.
Tanaka, who caused controversy when she reportedly expressed personal doubts about the U.S. missile defense program during one-on-one chats to her counterparts from Germany, Italy and Australia, said she assured Powell she supports Tokyo’s policy that Japan “understands” the need for the U.S. to pursue a new missile defense plan.
Japanese and U.S. officials said Tanaka’s reported controversial remarks were not mentioned during her 50-minute chat with Powell.
Tanaka said she told Rice the Koizumi Cabinet has gained public support rates of over 80 percent due to its practice of disclosing more information to the public in a simple format and its efforts to steer Japan into a new era through a wide range of reforms.
Tanaka, who arrived in Washington on Saturday, returned to Japan Tuesday afternoon.
Fukuda praises trip
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Tuesday he thinks Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka’s talks with U.S. officials Monday in Washington went “extremely well.”
“I think that the meetings were held smoothly,” the top government spokesman said at a news conference.
Asked to grade Tanaka’s performance, Fukuda said, “Full marks.”
Tanaka held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick. President George W. Bush made a surprise appearance during Tanaka’s talks with Rice.
The spate of high-level talks were aimed at paving the way for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s first meeting with Bush on June 30 at the U.S. presidential retreat Camp David, Md.
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