• Kyodo

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Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers welcomed President Barack Obama’s decision Tuesday to become the first sitting American head of state to visit Hiroshima.

“President Obama’s historic decision to visit Hiroshima is a great testimony to his bold and principled leadership,” Pelosi said in a statement released after Washington and Tokyo announced Obama’s planned visit to the atomic-bombed city.

“I commend him and the administration for their strong focus on this vital challenge for global peace and security,” the Democratic congresswoman said.

Pelosi is the highest-ranking U.S. official so far to have visited Hiroshima, which was devastated by an American atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945. She went the city in 2008 to attend an international meeting.

The House speaker stands behind only the vice president in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency.

“The president’s visit also underscores the monumental progress of the friendship between the United States and Japan” since World War II, she said.

“I am proud the president will visit Hiroshima, where in 1945 the United States dropped the first of two nuclear weapons to end the Second World War,” Sen. Ben Cardin, top Democratic member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, said.

“President Obama has set an important precedent for future commanders in chief as well as other world leaders through his words, actions and policies against nuclear weapons proliferation,” Cardin said.

Joaquin Castro, a House member who co-chairs the U.S.-Japan Caucus, said that Obama’s visit to Hiroshima “reinforces the United States’ dedication to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.”

Caroline Kennedy, the American ambassador to Japan, described Obama’s decision as “a tribute to the spirit of friendship and the enduring alliance between the United States and Japan.”

She said she looks forward to “this historic moment.”

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