• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi told U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday that Japan will press Iraq to accept U.N. inspectors and destroy its weapons of mass destruction, a Japanese official said.

Kawaguchi, who is scheduled to meet Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri on Saturday, said Japan, along with the U.S., will promote diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue.

While acknowledging the importance of diplomatic efforts through the United Nations, Powell said it is necessary for the U.N. Security Council to adopt a new resolution that will force Iraq to comply.

Simply adopting resolutions will merely be repeating earlier measures, Powell was quoted as saying in the 15-minute meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Kawaguchi welcomed U.S. President George W. Bush’s speech to the General Assembly session Thursday, saying it demonstrated Washington’s intention to resolve the Iraq issue through international diplomatic efforts.

In the speech, Bush said the U.S. will work with the U.N. Security Council on the issue. At the same time, however, he warned that “action will be unavoidable” if the U.N. fails to persuade Iraq to abandon weapons of mass destruction.

Kawaguchi also told Powell that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, when he meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on Tuesday, will address not only bilateral issues but also regional and global concerns, such as Pyongyang’s suspected development of weapons of mass destruction, the Japanese official said.

Koizumi announced Aug. 30 that he will visit North Korea for talks with Kim to discuss a range of issues related to establishing diplomatic ties.

Tokyo alleges that Pyongyang abducted at least 11 Japanese nationals from Japan and Europe between 1977 and 1983, apparently to use them in espionage-related activities. Japan has stated that resolution of the abduction issue is essential for the normalization of bilateral ties.

The U.S., meanwhile, is concerned about North Korea’s development of weapons of mass destruction, exports of missile technologies and deployment of huge conventional forces on the border with South Korea.

Kawaguchi welcomed Bush’s announcement Thursday that the U.S. will return to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after an absence of 18 years, the Japanese official said.

Kawaguchi also asked for continued U.S. support for Japan’s bid to become a new permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, the official said.

In his speech earlier in the day before the U.N. General Assembly, Koizumi emphasized the need for the U.N. to promote organizational reforms and expressed Japan’s desire to become a permanent member of the council.

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