Special Announcement by the Press Secretary

(Foreign Minister's telephone conversation with Russia)

April 18, 2003

Ms Yoriko KAWAGUCHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, had a telephone conversation with Mr. Igor Sergeyevich Ivanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, in the afternoon of April 18 (Tokyo time). The two foreign ministers discussed Iraq, North Korea and the Middle East peace process. Following is an outline of their discussion.

On Iraq, Minister Ivanov mentioned the following points.

- The foreign ministers of the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Russia and Bulgaria met in Athens to discuss post-war reconstruction of Iraq. Mr. Kofi Anan, Secretary-General of the UN was also present. In particular, the discussion was about which areas the UN should play a central role. The discussion was productive, and it was important that the participants' respective positions on future measures drew near.

- The discrepancy created between the US and the UN Security Council must be resolved. This is important not only for Iraq but also for the stability of the entire international community.

In response Minister Kawaguchi made the following remarks.

- Last week I visited Germany, France and the UK, and held consultations on post-war Iraq. It was unfortunate that the international community was split over military action against Iraq, but I sincerely hope to utilize the process of reconstruction to create an opportunity to reestablish international cooperation. It is important to implement reconstruction through sufficient involvement of the UN.

- Bearing in mind the leading role of the US and UK in military action thus far, the role of the US and UK ought to be recognized as a matter of fact for the time being. Subsequently, it is important that sufficient involvement of the UN would be achieved. Efforts should be continued to create a concerted international effort, which includes the US, and I hope to keep in contact with the Russian government.

Minister Ivanov responded as follows.

- The ultimate aim of Iraq's reconstruction must be based on independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. Once the final objective of reconstruction is defined, it would be easy to identify the path to achieve that goal. There are roles only the UN is capable of performing in the reconstruction process, and the UN must not be an auxiliary institution for any particular country.

On North Korea, Minister Ivanov conveyed the following points

- I welcome the agreement to convene the three-party consultation in China among the US, China and North Korea. Russia has been supporting the idea of holding a multilateral consultation, and has promoted developments to this end. I anticipate that the consultation would lead to easing of tension on the Korean peninsula.

Minister Kawaguchi responded as follows.

- I welcome the fact that preparations are being made to hold the three-party meeting among the US, China and North Korea, as a first step towards a peaceful resolution of North Korea's nuclear issue. It is important that it would be an earnest consultation, and the results of that consultation are followed up.

- The efforts that have been made by Russia on various issues related to North Korea are highly valued. On the three-party meeting, I took note of the press release of your government in which you welcomed all forms of dialogue and agreement that would lead to a peaceful resolution of the matter, and that Russia is ready to extend the necessary assistance in this process. I hope to keep consulting you on this issue as well.

On the Middle East peace process, Minister Ivanov said that the 'quartet' would cooperate to achieve the implementation of the roadmap by Israel and the Palestinian authority as soon as the new Palestinian cabinet is formed under Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). Minister Kawaguchi responded that she expected a formation of a stable autonomous government under Prime Minister Abu Mazen, and that the roadmap would be announced at an early stage.

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