WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush met with his envoy on Iraq debt Thursday and said James A. Baker III would next head to the Middle East when the time was right.
Baker, Secretary of State under Bush's father, had just returned from Asia and had lunch with the president, briefing him on his meetings with top officials in Japan, South Korea and China.
Japan had apparently agreed to forgive most of Iraq's debt to it if other nations did as well.
The Asia trip was the second in December for Baker, who Bush had named as a personal envoy to other heads of state to facilitate reduction or restructuring of Iraq's $120 billion debt. He had earlier button-holed European leaders.
Bush, who hunted quail with his father at a ranch near Falfurrias, Texas, predicted a "great year" for America.
His personal New Year's resolution, he added, was to strengthen his knees so he could return to running.