Friday, October 02, 2009

U.S. to give Japan time to assess troop rejig deal: envoy

October 2, 2009

TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States wants to give Japan's new government time to review an agreement on rejigging U.S. troops in the country, but it thinks an existing deal is the best solution, U.S. ambassador John Roos said on Friday.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Democratic Party took office last month vowing to forge a more independent stance from close security ally the United States.

That has raised concerns among investors and diplomats about friction over issues ranging from the planned realignment of U.S. troops to a naval refueling mission in support of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan.

"The solution is the realignment road-map that has been agreed to," Roos, himself a newcomer to his post, told a group of reporters.

"I think you have to give the Hatoyama administration time to analyze, to review to ask questions, and hopefully, the administration will come to the conclusion ... that it's a deal that is in both parties' best interests."

The issue is expected to be on the agenda when U.S. President Barack Obama visits Japan in November, but Roos said Washington was not setting a deadline for resolving the problem.

The realignment agreement includes a plan to ease the burden of U.S. bases on Japan's southern island of Okinawa by moving Marine Corps air base to a less crowded part of the island and shift 8,000 Marines to the U.S. territory of Guam, partly at Japan's expense.

Hatoyama has said the Marine air base should be moved out of Okinawa, but it has not proposed an alternative location.

(Reporting by Linda Sieg)

No comments: