Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Thursday he plans to visit South Korea on Feb. 25 to attend the inauguration of South Korean President-elect Roh Moo Hyun and hold talks with the new president on North Korea and other issues.

Koizumi made the remark in response to Roh’s comment in an interview with Japan’s NHK television that he wants to invite Koizumi to the inauguration.

“I am considering attending (the inauguration),” Koizumi told reporters Thursday evening. “I am looking forward to meeting with President-elect Roh Moo Hyun.”

Talks over Koizumi visiting Seoul on Feb. 25 have been ongoing, but the South Korean side had remained quiet after Koizumi on Jan. 14 visited Yasukuni Shrine, seen in the rest of Asia as a symbol of Japan’s World War II atrocities.

Koizumi said he will hold talks in a “future-oriented manner” on bilateral cooperation. Pressing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program “will of course be a matter that will be discussed,” he said.

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