03 November 2009
The United States says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is ready to meet with Japan's foreign minister, but Japanese officials say no decision has been made over whether or when the foreign minister will travel to Washington for such a meeting.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Monday that Clinton has time on Friday to meet with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada. But he added it was up to the Japanese foreign ministry to decide whether such a meeting will take place.
Japanese media reported Sunday that the U.S. Sate Department had retracted an "earlier announcement" that Okada would meet with Clinton in Washington on November 6.
Kelly said Secretary Clinton's schedule is put out a week in advance but is intended "for planning and not for publication."
Japanese government spokesman Hirofumi Hirano told reporters Monday the uncertainty about the meeting is just "an administrative matter" and not a sign of friction between the two countries.
Japan's new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama came into office this year promising to take a harder line with the United States on military matters, and his government is reviewing a U.S.-Japanese agreement to relocate a U.S. Marine air base on the southern island of Okinawa to another part of the island.
Japan has not announced a decision on whether the base will be moved elsewhere on Okinawa or off the island altogether. Foreign Minister Hatoyama has said the decision may not be made before a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama November 12-13.
The United States says the 2006 agreement to relocate Camp Schwab, on Okinawa's coast, must go on as planned.
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