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Clinton will talk about Japan realignment during Pacific trip

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Japan’s foreign minister on Tuesday to discuss the relocation of Marines and military bases on Okinawa, according to U.S. and Japanese officials.

Clinton and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada will hold talks over the divisive issue in Hawaii, where Clinton is beginning a weeklong visit to the Pacific, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Thursday, according to a transcript of public comments released by the department.

Japan’s foreign ministry confirmed the meeting Friday and said Okada hopes to discuss the relocation and other regional issues such as North Korea.

The State Department plans to press Japan to continue with a 2006 bilateral agreement to relocate 8,000 Okinawa Marines to Guam and move Marine Corps Air Station Futenma’s operations to a more secluded area of Okinawa, according to a Reuters report.

Japan’s new ruling government coalition decided to reconsider the plan after its election in September, a move that raised the ire of Washington and now threatens to hold up a massive shift of military assets scheduled for completion in 2014.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has called for a more equal relationship with the United States over the coming year and said a decision on the military move will be made by May.

The U.S. has denied any alternatives to the realignment agreement, which was hashed out after years of negotiations.

The future of the two countries’ strained relationship will also be on the table when Clinton and Okada meet in Honolulu, Reuters reported.

Clinton will ask the Japanese to clarify the two countries’ security alliance, which has been a key to stability in Asia for 50 years, according to the wire service.


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