The Straits Times
Published on Jan 19, 2013

Clinton assures Japan on islands, invites Abe to US in February


WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured Japan on Friday of United States (US) support in Tokyo's dispute with Beijing over a string of islands and invited new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Washington in late February for a meeting with President Barack Obama.

Mrs Clinton held a working lunch with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, and both emerged pledging that US-Japan security and economic ties would remain strong following Mr Abe's landslide election victory last month.

"Our alliance with Japan remains the cornerstone of American engagement with the region," Mrs Clinton told reporters, noting a wide range of cooperation on everything from disaster relief to the stand-off over nuclear North Korea.

Mrs Clinton, due to step down in coming weeks, again affirmed that the US would stand by its longtime ally in its territorial dispute with China over islets in the East China Sea claimed by both countries.