Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Koizumi, Arroyo, Mahathir slate East Asia development meeting

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and the leaders of the Philippines and Malaysia agreed Tuesday to hold a Cabinet-level meeting in Tokyo this summer to discuss East Asian development as part of broad cooperative measures between Japan and Southeast Asia.
In separate meetings with visiting Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Koizumi asked for their countries' cooperation in participating in the meeting, and the two leaders welcomed the proposal, government officials said.
Arroyo and Mahathir are in Japan to attend a private symposium.
The so-called East Asia development initiative is a forum to discuss overall development policies for the region and ways to cooperate in helping less-developed countries.
Koizumi pitched the idea during his visit to five Southeast Asian nations in January, along with his proposal for building a broad economic partnership, or a free-trade agreement network, among the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Mahathir asked for Japanese cooperation in connection with a Malaysian project to create a water supply route from the country's eastern region to the dry western area. Japan is currently conducting an environmental assessment for the project.
Koizumi avoided giving a clear-cut answer to the request, but said Japan is aware of the importance of water supply infrastructure.
The leaders also agreed on the importance of fighting terrorism and in cooperating in support of the democratization of Myanmar, the officials said.