Japan PM to meet Obama next week

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold talks with US President Barack Obama in Washington on February 22, with North Korea high on the agenda, the top government spokesman said Friday.

Abe will leave Tokyo next Thursday on a four-day US visit, accompanied by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who is planning to meet new US Secretary of State John Kerry, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news briefing.

Abe and Obama will use their first summit to "exchange views on wide-ranging issues, not only bilateral relations but also the situation in the Asia-Pacific region including the North Korean question, and to clearly demonstrate an enhanced Japan-US alliance," he said.

Abe, who took power after his conservative party won an election landslide in December, is expected to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiative amid antipathy at home toward the US-led scheme.

The two leaders held telephone talks on Thursday and agreed to seek tougher sanctions on North Korea two days after the communist country carried out its third nuclear test in defiance of international opposition.

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