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A three-day Asian forum to prepare for the U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society later this year started Monday in Tokyo, the organizers said.

Around 800 participants are attending the Asian Regional Conference at the New Takanawa Prince Hotel. They come from about 40 economies and include members of international entities, IT companies and nongovernmental organizations.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is scheduled to deliver a speech in which he will express Tokyo’s readiness to fill information gaps among other parts of Asia, they said.

Five panel discussions will be held at the gathering, which is sponsored by the International Telecommunication Union, UNESCO and other organizations.

Participants are expected to agree to promote an information-based society in Asia that takes into consideration linguistic and cultural diversity. , they said.

The first phase of the summit will be held in Geneva in December and the second phase in Tunis in 2005.

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