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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Friday stressed the need for the simmering Iraq situation to be resolved through enhanced U.N.-led diplomatic efforts.

“It is important for the international community to continue to work together, and to engage more strenuously in diplomatic efforts through the United Nations,” Koizumi said in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly.

The U.N. Security Council should adopt new resolutions to turn up the heat on Iraq and press it to accept the return of U.N. weapons inspectors, Koizumi said.

“Iraq must allow immediate and unconditional inspections and dispose of all weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

On Thursday, U.S. President George W. Bush told the U.N. General Council that “action will be unavoidable” if the U.N. fails to force Iraq to abandon its weapons of mass destruction.

The Bush administration has been talking tough about the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power, arguing that the Iraqi president is attempting to produce weapons of mass destruction and waiting until he succeeds would only invite disaster.

Koizumi, delivering his speech in English, said the U.N. should reform itself to better respond to new global situations. In this regard, he expressed Japan’s desire to become a new permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

“Next year, the debate on Security Council reform will enter its 10th year,” he said. “I believe that we should now focus our discussions on such questions as the number of seats on the enlarged Security Council.”

In another matter, Koizumi said the so-called enemy state clauses should be dropped from the U.N. Charter, describing them as “meaningless legacies of the 20th century.”

The clauses enable military action to be taken against the Allied countries’ World War II enemies — including Japan and Germany — without any endorsement from the Security Council.

Koizumi also said Japan will continue to pursue its goal of making a peaceful and safe world, free of nuclear weapons.

“I believe that Japan, as the only country in human history to have suffered nuclear devastation, has a significant role to play in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation,” he said.

Koizumi said Japan will propose a draft resolution, titled “A path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons,” at the current session of the U.N. General Assembly.

He also vowed to redouble efforts to achieve the early enforcement of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty on nuclear weapons.

In addition to U.N. reform and the nuclear weapons proliferation issue, Japan wants to play an active role in such fields as the fight against terrorism, post-conflict assistance for the consolidation of peace and nation-building, and the simultaneous achievement of environmental protection and development, Koizumi said.

As part of its efforts to support nation-building in Afghanistan, Japan is preparing a program to assist the demobilization and registration of former combatants under its proposed “Register for Peace” initiative, Koizumi said.

Deaf ears in India

NEW YORK (Kyodo) Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi called on Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday to reduce India’s nuclear arsenal, but the request was met with a cool response.

Koizumi made the call for global peace in a meeting with Vajpayee at a hotel in New York, Japanese officials said.

Vajpayee responded that India has declared that it will not become a first-use country or use nuclear weapons against nations that do not possess such arms, the officials said.

But the Indian leader added that countries in South Asia already have or are attempting to acquire nuclear weapons despite New Delhi’s efforts to denuclearize the region, they said.

Koizumi, noting his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang next Tuesday, told Vajpayee that he will explore the feasibility of resuming bilateral talks on normalizing relations.

“I will seize the opportunity rather than take a risk,” a Japanese official quoted Koizumi as saying.

The Indian leader expressed hope that Koizumi’s visit will accelerate positive changes in the North, the officials said.

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