Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who returned home Thursday from his four-day tour to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, will next visit Finland on a six-day trip from Sept. 7 to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting, government officials said.

The visit will likely be Koizumi’s last overseas trip before stepping down in late September, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe declined comment on whether summits with Chinese and South Korean leaders will be held on the sidelines by saying the ASEM schedule has yet to be finalized.

“This time it will be the 10th anniversary meeting for ASEM. The leaders plan to exchange opinions on how Asia and Europe should work together to address global issues,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told a news conference. Abe is tipped as Koizumi’s heir apparent.

Asked if there are plans for bilateral talks with China and South Korea, Abe said, “Japan’s door is always open for summit talks,” but stopped short of giving further details.

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