• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida visited a memorial to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center after arriving Sunday in New York, where he will attend U.N. General Assembly-related events.

Kishida laid a wreath in front of the Survivor Tree, a pear tree that survived the collapse of the WTC twin towers, at the National Sept. 11 Memorial.

“This visit made me aware that we’ll have to make efforts for peace and stability as well as prosperity without forgetting the victims,” Kishida told reporters.

Referring to upcoming U.N.-related events, he said: “We are faced with a lot of big and serious tasks, such as how to deal with the Ukrainian crisis, Islamic State militants and the outbreak of the Ebola virus.

“We will work to ensure Japan can show its presence” in helping deal with these issues, said Kishida, who arrived in New York on Sunday morning.

During his visit to New York, attention will be focused on whether he can thaw Japan’s chilly ties with China and South Korea via bilateral meetings.

If Kishida can hold talks on the sidelines of U.N. events with China’s Wang Yi or South Korea’s Yun Byung-se, he is expected to use the chance to set up bilateral summits between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the leaders of the two countries later this year.

Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping have yet to meet bilaterally since they took office over a year ago, due mainly to the dispute over the Senkaku Islands.

Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye have also failed to hold a meeting since she took office in February 2013, with ties strained due mainly to rows over historical issues.

During his stay in New York, which lasts until Friday, Kishida plans to meet one on one with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and attend events on a variety of topics, including gender equality, the human rights situation in North Korea and reforms to the U.N. Security Council, according to Japanese officials.

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