• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and her Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, agreed Sunday to arrange for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to visit Russia in January, a Japanese official said.

In a meeting held in New York on the sidelines of the annual session of the U.N. General Assembly, Kawaguchi and Ivanov also agreed that she and Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko would jointly chair a bilateral forum on trade and economic issues in Moscow on Oct. 14.

President Vladimir Putin invited Koizumi to Russia when they met in Canada last June during the Group of Eight summit. They agreed to set the visit for December or January.

Kawaguchi told Ivanov the two countries should accelerate efforts to draw up an action plan to promote bilateral ties so the initiative can be adopted during Koizumi’s visit, according to the Japanese official.

Kawaguchi said she wants to fully discuss with Ivanov a bilateral peace treaty when she visits Russia from Oct. 12 to 14.

The treaty issue has been blocked by the long-standing territorial dispute over the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.

Ivanov reiterated Moscow’s support for Koizumi’s historic summit Tuesday in North Korea and said Russia hopes his meeting with Kim Jong Il will help to improve Japan-North Korea ties.

Ivanov told Kawaguchi anecdotes about the North Korean leader, saying Kim is fond of surfing the Internet and is familiar with policy issues.

He went on to say Kim is aware of the importance for North Korea to become a modern country and thinks his country should move toward a market economy.

Ivanov said it is important to support Kim, noting that his ideas may not be endorsed by all the people surrounding him.

On Iraq, Kawaguchi and Ivanov agreed the international community must press Iraq to comply with U.N. resolutions and accept weapons inspections.

To avoid a military conflict, it is important for Iraq to accept U.N. arms inspectors, Ivanov was quoted as saying.

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