Obama fails trade deal with Japan, heads to South Korea
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/26/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Failing to clinch a trade deal with Japan, which is crucial to both his intended strategic pivot to Asia as well as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic reforms, President Obama headed next to South Korea. The next stop on his four-nation Asian tour, Obama wishes to remind South Korea about the U.S. commitment to curbing the North's nuclear ambitions.
Obama assured PM Abe that Washington was committed to coming to Japan's defense. It further solidified the U.S. stance that a set of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, at the heart of a territorial dispute between Japan and China, are covered by a security treaty that obliges Washington to defend Japan.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Obama and Abe's meeting was to confirm the show two countries' alliance in the face of a rising China. The occasion was spoilt by the failure to reach a deal seen as very important to a broader regional trade pact.
The nations had ordered their top aides to make a final push to reach a trade agreement after the leaders met earlier this week. Economy Minister Akira Amari told reporters that gaps remained despite recent progress.
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"This time we can't say there's a basic agreement," Amari said. The two leaders extensive talks had failed to settle differences over farm products and cars. "Overall, the gaps are steadily narrowing."
The two sides said in their statement that they were committed to taking "bold steps" to reach a deal, which would reinvigorate the delayed 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.
Providing few details, a senior U.S. trade official said the two sides achieved a breakthrough on market access.
"There are still details to be worked out. There is still much work to be done . We believe we do have a breakthrough in our bilateral negotiations," the senior official said, who was accompanied Obama to South Korea.
The TPP is high on Abe's economic reform agenda and central to Obama's policy of expanding the U.S. presence in Asia.
Obama assured Abe that Washington was committed to coming to Japan's defense. It further solidified the U.S. stance that a set of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, at the heart of a territorial dispute between Japan and China, are covered by a security treaty that obliges Washington to defend Japan.
Beijing responded hotly, claiming sovereignty over the Japanese-controlled islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. Japanese and Chinese patrol ships have been playing cat and mouse near the islands, and Washington is wary of being drawn into any clash.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China had "serious concerns" about some of the statement.
"We urge the United States and Japan to abandon their Cold War mentality and respect the concerns and interests of other countries in the region and avoid further interference with regional peace and stability," he said at a regular news briefing.
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