Foreign Minister Kawaguchi's Visit to France (Overview and Evaluation)
1. Overview of Schedule
Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi visited France from January 12 (Sunday) to 14 (Tuesday). On January 13 (Monday) she held separate talks with French President Jacques Chirac, Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, and Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry Francis Mer. During her visit to France, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi also met Secretary-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed El Baradei and had telephone talks with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. In addition, she was interviewed by Le Monde newspaper and held talks with the intellects (see note).
(Note: These include the following three people: Mr. Xavier de VILLEPIN, Vice Chairman of the France-Japan Parliamentary Friendship League of the Senate, Former Chairman of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee of the Senate, and father of the current Foreign Minister, Mr. Thierry de Montbrial, Director, French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), and Mr. Francois Heisbourg, Director, Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS))
2. International Situation
As the presiding country of the G8 this year, and also having served as the chair of the U.N. Security Council in January, France is in a position to play an important role in developments in the international situation from now on. In the series of talks, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi explained Japan's views especially on the problems of North Korea and Iraq and endeavored to coordinate opinions.
(1) Regarding the North Korea problem, the two sides expressed serious concern about North Korea's declaration of withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and shared the views that (a) it was important for the international community to send a unified message to North Korea; (b) it was necessary for related countries and international organizations to hold close discussions and to respond calmly; and (c) Japan and France would continue to cooperate closely, including the necessary exchange of information.
(2) Regarding Iraq, the two sides confirmed that it was important for Iraq to cooperate properly in the inspections and for the international community to continue to act in unison.
3. Japan-France Cooperation on International Issues
(1) A number of international meetings will be held this year at which Japan-France cooperation is expected, such as the Third World Water Forum and its Ministerial Meeting (which President Chirac is scheduled to attend) in March, the G8 Evian Summit in June, and the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) from the end of September to the beginning of October. During her visit to France this time, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi heard from the French side about its ideas concerning what it considers to be priority issues (water, Africa, etc.) ahead of the Evian Summit and explained that Japan also places importance on these issues. The two sides confirmed that Japan and France would display leadership and cooperate closely so that the international meetings on these issues produce substantial results.
(2) Foreign Minister Kawaguchi announced that the Japanese government would like to extend an invitation to President Chirac to make a working visit to Japan in March. The two sides agreed that on the occasion of this visit, in order to promote Japanese-French cooperation in response to the emergence of such new international issues as terrorism, they would draft a direction for the revision of the "France-Japan, 20 Actions for the 21st Century," which is the present framework for cooperation between the two countries.
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