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The Secretary-Generals of the Three Ruling Coalition Parties Travel to the United States and A Group Headed by LDP Secretary-General Yamasaki Travels to the Middle East

May 7, 2002

The Secretary-Generals of the three ruling coalition parties traveled to the United States for a visit on April 29th and 30th. Following this, LDP Secretary-General Yamasaki led a group on a trip to the Middle East from May 1st through May 6th that included stops in Turkey, Israel, the Palestinian Autonomous Territories, and Jordan. (A visit to Saudi Arabia that had initially been planned was cancelled.)
  The purpose of both these visits was to increase understanding among interested parties of Japan's position on problematic issues in the Middle East, especially those concerning the Middle East peace process and Iraq. The trips were also designed to allow for the gathering of recent information from many sources and to facilitate an exchange of views with officials in these countries that will help Japan define the role it should play in the resolution of these issues. The detailed discussions that took place with prominent individuals such as United States Deputy Secretary of State Armitage and United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz in Washington, United Nations Secretary-General Annan in New York, Chairman Arafat in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories, and Foreign Minister Peres in Israel, enabled Japan to make extremely good progress toward the realization of these goals. Efforts that were made to stress the importance of the United States' continued involvement in the Middle East peace process, to urge both Israel and Palestinian officials to exercise self-restraint, and to demonstrate Japan's commitment to play an active role in this area were particularly successful. Also of special significance was the timely meeting that took place between Chairman Arafat and Secretary-General Yamasaki, the first between the Chairman and a high-ranking foreign official since the former's recent release from confinement in his headquarters. During the meeting, the Secretary-General delivered a personal letter from Prime Minister Koizumi to the Chairman and also conveyed a message from Foreign Minister Kawaguchi asking that further suicide bombings be prevented, pledging that Japan will continue to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, and reconfirming Japan's intention to actively participate in the peace process.
  It should also be mentioned that direct and close communications between the Secretary-Generals and Foreign Minister Kawaguchi were maintained both before and during these visits. The fact that cooperation between the ruling coalition parties and the government made the trips even more successful was well noted and will likely be taken into careful account when plans are made for similar activities in the future.

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