Japanese FM meets U.S. official on nuclear standoffs
Japan's Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg on Friday to coordinate efforts between Tokyo and Washington on ongoing negotiations with Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) over nuclear issues, Xinhua reported.
The DPRK nuclear issue had made no breakthrough as Pyongyang retreated from the six-party talks, while Tehran is accused by the United States and its allies of looking to develop the bomb, despite Iran's claim that it is using the technology for a way to supply power.
On Iran, Japan is expected to follow any resolution passed against the nation in the United Nations, and Okada has worked with his counterpart in Tehran to try to find a peaceful solution to its standoff with the United States over the nuclear issue, sources close to the matter said.
On the DPRK, Washington and Tokyo have long taken a unified stance against Pyongyang, and the two had reaffirmed their support for each other during the meeting.
On Thursday, local media reported that Japan had told the United States that it would like to modify a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed by the two countries in 2006, an issue that the two politicians are likely to have also discussed.
The SOFA agreement, signed in 2006, was likely to also be a major topic of conversation between the two politicians. While Japan has looked for a way to appease the people of Okinawa, who are largely opposed to the U.S. military presence, Washington wants to stick to the 2006 agreement.
On the issue, Steinberg only told reporters that "both sides are working very productively."
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said he would like to see the issue resolved by May, and hopes for a conclusion on alternatives to be put forward by Tokyo by the end of March.
Steinberg is in Japan after a three-day visit to China, where he looked to improve ties between Washington and Beijing in the aftermath of a recent visit to the United States by the Dalai Lama and a huge sale of arms to Taiwan.