On the third leg of a six-country tour, Secretary-General Kofi Annan met in Tokyo today with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, discussing issues ranging from United Nations reform to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear weapons programme.
“We covered lots of territory in a relatively short time,” Mr. Annan told reporters following the meeting.
The two leaders also discussed the sometimes stormy relations between the Republic of Korea and Japan and “and the need to reduce tensions and improve relations,” Mr. Annan said. “I was able to, since I am just coming from South Korea, to share my impressions and observations with the Prime Minister who also would want to see a good relation between the two countries.”
He said Mr. Koizumi indicated that during the five years since he has been in office, contacts had expanded and he seemed quite hopeful as to the future.
“I think what is important is that after this conversation, I have a feeling that the door is open, it may require some important gestures to ease the way forward and remove the impediments that stand in the way of further development of this essential relationship,” the Secretary-General added.
Asked about the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme, Mr. Annan said he hoped that negotiations will resume and that “all parties will go to the table with an open mind.”
Following the meeting with the Prime Minister, the Secretary-General also met with Foreign Minister Taro Ase, and separately with Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe.
Mr. Annan, who began his current trip in Vienna last week, will also visit China, Viet Nam and Thailand.