Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi left for the United States on Monday afternoon for talks with President George W. Bush and to attend a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the country.
During his five-day trip, the prime minister will also deliver a speech at a session of the 57th U.N. General Assembly in New York and is expected to hold bilateral talks with other world leaders.
Koizumi’s trip comes amid growing optimism that his landmark talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on Sept. 17 could help stabilize security in Northeast Asia.
But it is also being made as concerns about further stock plunges increase around the world.
In his talks with Bush on Thursday, Koizumi will tell the U.S. president that he plans to urge Kim to seek dialogue with Washington and Seoul as well as Tokyo to help realize peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and surrounding areas.
The Japanese prime minister is expected to tell the U.S. president he will particularly urge the North Korean leader to freeze tests of ballistic missiles and to stop the North’s alleged development of nuclear weapons, Japanese government sources said earlier.
On the economic front, Koizumi will tell Bush his administration plans to quickly compile a new package to fight deflation and step up bad-loan disposal, Japanese government sources said.
The planned package is expected to feature the government’s purchase of exchange-traded funds, a type of investment trust, to prevent a further decline in share prices.
In last-minute efforts to thrash out a plan for the new economic package ahead of his summit talks with Bush, Koizumi discussed details with heavyweights of his ruling coalition and members of a key government economic panel before taking off in the afternoon.
Structural reforms in Japan will also be taken up in the meeting between Bush and Koizumi, the leaders of the world’s largest and second-largest economies.
Koizumi is also expected to tell Bush, in connection with a possible U.S. attack on Iraq in the near future, that Tokyo will step up diplomatic efforts to urge Baghdad to allow U.N. inspectors to investigate its alleged development of weapons of mass destruction, Japanese Foreign Ministry officials said.
Also high on the agenda at the two leaders’ sixth meeting will be how to step up antiterrorism measures ahead of the first anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the officials said.
On Wednesday, Koizumi will attend an evening memorial ceremony along with other foreign government leaders at Battery Park in southern Manhattan.
Koizumi plans to join the leaders in lighting a fire near the remains of the Sphere, which used to stand in the fountain of the WTC Plaza.
In a speech to be delivered in English at the U.N. assembly Friday, Koizumi is expected to express Tokyo’s intention to help bring peace to war-ravaged regions, according to the Japanese sources.
During his stay in New York, Koizumi is likely to meet foreign leaders including Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Indian Prime Minister Atar Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, the sources said earlier.
Aside from political events, Koizumi will meet Harvard University President Lawrence Summers, a former U.S. treasury secretary, on campus and watch a professional football game in Massachusetts on Monday before arriving in New York on Tuesday.
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