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U.S. President George W. Bush will be curious about Japan’s structural reform policy when he meets Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Saturday, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday.

“The meeting will also give the president an opportunity to listen to the prime minister, discuss structural reforms of the Japanese economy, and the president will be curious and attentive to the discussions,” Fleischer said.

Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Shunji Yanai also said Thursday that Japan’s reform policy will be high on the agenda at the first Koizumi-Bush meeting.

“The United States hopes to hear Japan’s recently adopted reform policy directly from Prime Minister Koizumi,” Yanai told reporters.

Japan approved a sweeping reform plan Tuesday compiled by a government panel headed by Koizumi to put the economy in order in two or three years by resolving the bad-loan problem.

Fleischer said strengthening bilateral security ties will be another key agenda item at the Camp David summit.

“Our U.S.-Japanese alliance is a cornerstone of peace and prosperity in Asia,” he said.

Koizumi and Bush will dress casually at the presidential retreat outside Washington and will be able to talk in a friendly atmosphere, Yanai said.

Kyoto pact pressure

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) U.S. environmental groups urged Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Thursday to persuade U.S. President George W. Bush to comply with the 1997 international pact on global warming when they meet Saturday.

“The survival of the Kyoto Protocol depends on the leadership of Japan,” said a letter jointly issued by the nongovernmental groups, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

“If Japan does not step forward now and voice its support for the Kyoto Protocol and its commitment to ratify, the protocol could potentially collapse, setting back climate protection by a decade and leaving a long residue of bitterness and mistrust,” the letter said.

The groups plan to present the letter to Koizumi through the Japanese Embassy in Washington on Friday.

The protocol would require industrialized countries to impose binding limits on emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.

Bush has rejected the pact as “fatally flawed” and voiced readiness to seek nonbinding and market-based alternatives.

“The Japanese government has been under continual scrutiny because of its illegal whale hunts — this is an opportunity for it to take a major step for the environment,” Greenpeace spokesman Nathalie Eddy said.

G8 on Blair agenda

LONDON (Kyodo) Climate change and preparations for next month’s Group of Eight summit will be two of the key issues up for discussion when British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, meet for the first time Monday, the British prime minister’s office said Thursday.

Koizumi is due to arrive in London on Sunday evening following a visit to the United States and will have a two-hour working lunch with Blair on Monday.

“They will be discussing the economic reform program in Japan, preparations for the G8 summit, the Kyoto protocol and a range of other international issues,” a British government spokesman said.

He said during the July 20-22 G8 summit in Genoa, Italy, one of the items the two leaders were expected to discuss are the prospects for launching a new round of global trade liberalization talks later this year.

Koizumi will be one of the most high-profile international visitors to No. 10 Downing Street since Blair’s landslide election victory on June 8 in which he was returned to office for a second term.

His visit also comes at a time when British-Japanese relations are in the public spotlight as a result of the Japan 2001 cultural festival. Koizumi will leave Britain on Tuesday morning for France.

Takebe to visit U.S.

Tsutomu Takebe, minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, will make a four-day visit to the United States starting July 8 to exchange views with U.S. officials, the farm ministry said Friday.

Takebe will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, as well as other U.S. government officials in Washington, ministry officials said.

They are expected to exchange views on the launch of a new round of trade liberalization talks under the World Trade Organization as well as other issues, the officials said.

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