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June 19, 1999
Japan may raise Kargil at G-8 summit
With President Bill Clinton, he stressed the need to get China into the World Trade Organisation soon. With Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien, he discussed escalating tensions in Kashmir. To anyone who will listen, he condemns North Korea's development of long-range missiles.
Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi is the only Asian leader at the summit of the world's richest nations, and he is determined to see that the concerns of the world's most populous region are not ignored.
It is not an easy task.
This year's summit at Cologne in Germany is being held in the shadow of the fragile peace process in Kosovo. Questions over who should do what or pay how much to help reconstruct the region will almost certainly be the topic that will dominate the talks.
At the same time, however, tensions in Asia have escalated significantly in recent months, and Japan would like to use the G-8 venue to send whatever message it can to ease them.
''We do feel we have an important role to play in making the concerns of Asian countries better known to the G-8 partners,'' said Japanese spokesman Sadaaki Numata.
After several bilateral meetings with G-8 leaders yesterday, Japanese spokesmen said the response to Obuchi's efforts had been good with most realising that Asia's problems are global concerns.
Foremost among Japan's concerns are a long-standing dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan and fears that North Korea is planning a ballistic missile test launch.
In a bilateral meeting with Chretien yesterday, Obuchi called ''the escalation of tensions over Kashmir a special concern'' because India and Pakistan are both nuclear powers.
Japanese spokesmen refused to comment on whether Obuchi would push for a formal G-8 statement on the conflict, but noted it was addressed in an earlier meeting of the group's foreign ministers.
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