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Japan, Australia and US Discuss Cooperation Against Terrorism

Officials from Japan, Australia, and the United States have held discussions ranging from Asian security issues to the Middle East and Japan's quest for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. Delegates have wrapped up bilateral and three-way meetings.

The head of the U.S. delegation, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, said in Tokyo that increasing cooperation to fight terrorism in the region continues to top the trilateral agenda.

"We talked again today about that issue. And I think when our ministers get together in a very short time that will be at the heart of their agenda," said Mr. Burns. "How can the three of us cooperate together in this region, in Asia, to stem the tide of terrorism and more globally how we can be effective together."

Japan and Australia are among the countries providing support to U.S. military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Japan has about 550 soldiers on a strictly humanitarian mission in southern Iraq, but the legislation allowing the troop dispatch expires in December.

The Australian government has also provided military support in Iraq, but has expressed the hope their current second dispatch of troops will be the last and that all Australian soldiers will be back home soon, possibly by next May.

Mr. Burns says he hopes both Canberra and Tokyo will extend their commitments in Iraq.

"I made the request on the part of the United States that Australia and Japan would continue to serve with us in Iraq," he added. "It is very important. Both are strong allies and we appreciate their presence there."

Mr. Burns declined to give details of another set of talks concerning U.S. forces in Japan. He called the discussions on realigning the forces "complicated", but said he was hopeful for their success.

The United States has more than 40,000 troops in Japan. Media reports say the negotiators are still at odds over the size and location of future U.S. military facilities in Japan.

But Undersecretary Burns said he hoped the issue could be resolved ahead of President Bush's visit to Kyoto next month. Mr. Bush is to stop in Japan on his way to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in South Korea.