New U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed sympathy Friday for relatives of Japanese abducted by North Korea in her first phone conference with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone.

Clinton, who called Nakasone on her first day in office, reassured him that the U.S. relationship with Japan remains the foundation to Washington’s diplomatic policies in Asia, and that the two sides can collaborate on global issues.

“I sensed a strong will from the secretary of state” on resolving North Korea’s abductions and nuclear threat, Nakasone told reporters after the 15-minute call.

“She took the lead and explained that ties with Japan are a cornerstone for the U.S., which left a strong impression on me,” he said.

In addition to agreeing to stabilize the Asia-Pacific region and Afghanistan through joint efforts, the two sides agreed that Tokyo and Washington could together play a key role in alleviating the global financial turmoil and fighting climate change, the Foreign Ministry said.

Clinton also proposed that, as members of the U.N. Security Council, the two work closely and collaborate on denuclearization and nuclear nonproliferation tasks. Clinton added that the planned relocation of a U.S. Marine Corps contingent to Guam from Okinawa should proceed steadily.

“We agreed to strengthen the bilateral security treaty and our alliance,” Nakasone said.

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