Noda, Obama hail strength of relationship

April 30, 2012 at 4:23 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda hailed a pact to move U.S. Marines and spoke of unity against North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The two met at the White House Monday, telling reporters that much of their discussions were on North Korea's nuclear program and signals that Pyongyang may conduct an underground nuclear test after its failed missile launch.

"We continue our close consultations on the provocative actions of North Korea, which are a sign of weakness and not strength, and only serve to deepen Pyongyang's isolation," Obama told during a joint news conference with Noda.

"There is a great possibility they will conduct a nuclear test" Noda said through an interpreter. "And I believe the international community all together will need to call for restraint on the part of [North Korea]."

Concerning the reduction and relocation of U.S. Marines on Okinawa, Obama said the two leaders reviewed the agreement reached on realigning U.S. forces in Japan. Last week, the two governments presented a plan for the United States to relocate 9,000 of its 19,000 Marines based on Okinawa to other places in the Pacific region and move the marine facility to a less populated area of the island.

"We recognize that the U.S.-Japan alliance will remain the foundation of the security and prosperity of our two nations, [and a cornerstone of regional peace and security," Obama said. "This reflects our effort to modernize America's defense posture in the Asia-Pacific with forces that are more broadly distributed, more flexible and more sustainable."

Noda also thanked the United States for its support in the aftermath of the disastrous 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to a nuclear plant catastrophe and said the Japan-U.S. alliance "reached new heights."

Another topic Monday was Japan's possible membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade alliance that is part of Obama's strategy to increase U.S. exports and influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We instructed our teams to continue our consultation regarding Japan's interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would benefit both our economies and the region," Obama said.

Noda said the two countries will deepen bilateral economic ties and "fortify the growth and prosperity of the two countries through the promotion of economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region," which includes consultation on Japan's participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The two also touched on joint efforts concerning energy and cultural exchanges and agreed to "deepen our cooperation on nuclear safety, clean energy and cybersecurity to enhance our economic competitiveness," Obama said.

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