The United States and Japan were set for another round of bilateral discussions Friday in Washington over several issues linked to the Defense Department’s Global Posture Review, officials said.

The session is a resumption of talks the two sides have staged in the past 18 months, when both have exchanged ideas about the potential reorganization and realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, said Air Force Col. Victor Warzinski, a U.S. Forces Japan spokesman. He declined to offer specifics.

Japanese media have speculated on scenarios involving shifting various U.S. troop concentrations at U.S. military facilities throughout Japan, including Okinawa.

“A number of things have been out there,” Warzinski said. “Some are true but most are not.

“This is just a continuation in the series of discussions we’ve been having with the Japanese government over the last year and a half. It’s a part of the process in the ongoing effort to restructure and realign our forces to make them more efficient and more effective.”

Friday’s talks in Washington were scheduled to include Kazuki Iihara, director general of the Japan Defense Agency’s Defense Policy Bureau, and Shin Ebihara, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s North American Affairs Bureau, Warzinski said. Senior U.S. leaders also planned to take part, he said.

The two nations planned to discuss President Bush’s intent to reshuffle U.S. forces globally, he added, including a plan announced earlier this month to withdraw about 60,000 to 70,000 troops from Asia and Europe over the next 10 years.

“The U.S. military is in a posture review, and the president made the announcement about realigning our forces to enable more effective military operations in the future,” Warzinski said. “But we are committed to the defense of Japan. We want to work more closely together and preserve our security alliance in this part of the world.”

Senior U.S. administration officials have stated that U.S. forces in Japan aren’t likely to be significantly reduced under the realignment proposal.

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