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Clinton Warns North Korea on Missile Test


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to Indonesia on Wednesday for the second stop on her Asia tour, her first overseas trip since taking office.

In Jakarta, she is expected to urge the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to work for improved human rights in Burma.

In Tokyo on Tuesday, she said Washington is reviewing its policy to see if it can find a better way to influence Burma's military leaders.

Clinton also described the U.S.-Japanese alliance as a "cornerstone" of Washington's global diplomacy. She said Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso will on February 24 become the first foreign leader to visit U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House.

Clinton's first stop on her Asia tour was largely dominated by the issue of North Korea. The secretary urged Pyongyang not to carry through on its plan to test-fire a long-range missile.

She said North Korea's planned test-launch of its Taepodong-2 missile would be "very unhelpful."

North Korea on Monday said it will test-launch the missile as part of a space development program.

Clinton renewed the Obama administration's promise to normalize relations with Pyongyang if North Korea ends its nuclear weapons program and abides by its previous agreements.

While in Tokyo, Clinton also met with relatives of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. She promised to press North Korea to account for their fate.

Pyongyang has admitted to abducting Japanese people and bringing them to North Korea to train its spies.

Japan refuses to send humanitarian aid to North Korea as part of a North Korean disarmament deal until Pyongyang accounts for the fate of all Japanese abductees.

Clinton also spoke to Japanese officials about the global economy, climate change and the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She signed an agreement with Japan on relocating 8,000 U.S. troops from the southern Japanese island of Okinawa to the U.S. Pacific island of Guam.

Japan has welcomed Clinton's visit as a sign that Washington will maintain strong ties with Tokyo even as the U.S. seeks a closer partnership with China.

In addition to Indonesia Wednesday, Clinton has stops scheduled in South Korea and China. She says the Obama administration wants to show that its relations with Asia-Pacific nations are "indispensable" to addressing global challenges.

Authorities have boosted security ahead of Clinton's Jakarta visit.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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