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Sunday, October 24, 2004

BBC > Powell starts key East Asia visit

US Secretary of State Colin Powell begins a four-day tour of East Asia by meeting the Japanese prime minister and foreign minister on Sunday.
Their talks are expected to include a partial lifting of Japan's ban on US beef imports, their military alliance, and North Korea's nuclear programme.
Earlier Mr Powell rejected North Korean demands for "rewards" before it rejoins disarmament talks.
Mr Powell will go on to visit China and South Korea.
It is more than 18 months since Mr Powell last visited these countries.
The BBC's correspondent Jill McGivering says that is a long time, given the region's importance, and the secretary of state's packed agenda suggests he is intent on catching up.
In Japan and South Korea, he is expected to thank his hosts for continued support in Iraq.
They have stood firm despite public opposition and kidnappings.
Nuclear concerns
Mr Powell is also expected to address concerns about stability for Iraq's elections and to emphasise the need for cash, following the donor conference just held in Tokyo.
State Department officials say that in both countries he will also discuss US plans to reduce troops in US military bases there, in line with shifting US priorities.
In Japan he may also discuss US beef exports. Tokyo banned all US beef after an American outbreak of mad cow disease, but has just announced the embargo will be lifted for cattle less than 20 months old.
North Korea
South Korea
United States
A key issue in all three countries visited will be Washington's determination to restart six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
On his flight to the region, Mr Powell said North Korea would receive no "rewards" until it rejoined the talks.
"This is a six-party discussion, not a US-North Korea discussion or an exchange of US and North Korean talking points," he said.
In Beijing, Mr Powell may also try to ease tensions over Taiwan.
China has been angry about US arms sales and about Washington's positive response to a recent call by Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian for cross-straits talks.
Story from BBC NEWS: /pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia -pacific/3946829.stm

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