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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 05:56 GMT
Bush backs Japan reform efforts
George Bush, Junichiro Koizumi at Meiji Shrine
The US-Japan alliance forms a "bedrock" of stability
US President George W Bush has said he is confident of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ability to reform the Japanese economy, following talks in Tokyo on the first stop of his Asian tour.

Reform efforts, he said, were not only important for Japan, but also for the region and the world.

It is important for the world's second largest economy to grow - it will help the region and it will help the world

President Bush
Mr Bush has also said the alliance between the United States and Japan is the "bedrock of peace and prosperity" in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Bush added there were hopeful signs that the American economy was recovering from recession.

It is Mr Bush's first visit to Japan, which he sees as America's strongest ally in Asia, but his fourth meeting with Mr Koizumi.

The trip was originally planned for last year, but was put off after the 11 September attacks on the United States.

Mr Bush thanked Japan for its logistical support during the subsequent military campaign in Afghanistan.

Korea visit

Mr Bush's six-day trip will subsequently take him to South Korea and China.

During his visit to South Korea, Mr Bush will travel to the demilitarised zone set up at the end of the Korean War in 1953.

There he will meet US troops supporting the South Korean forces, which face North Korea on the world's last Cold War border.

Political activists in South Korea are planning demonstrations during the president's visit, while the North's state-run radio has called Mr Bush "the most evil and war-crazed president in the history of the United States".

After South Korea, Mr Bush will visit China, where trade and human rights will be the main issues under discussion.

The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"The leaders get on well together"
Japan analyst David Powers
"There is only one question... the state of the Japanese economy"
See also:

17 Feb 02 | Business
Bush urges Japan to reform economy
15 Feb 02 | Business
Yen woes may dominate Bush trip
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