(At the request of Mr. Reid, the following statement was ordered to be printed in the Record.) -- (Senate - November 15, 2007)
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Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise to extend my welcome to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan, who is visiting Washington today.
Japan is a critical ally and friend of the United States. I believe our alliance is fundamental to a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region.
The Prime Minister's visit comes at an important time. It is crucial that our two countries maintain the positive momentum in our relationship and work closely together to accomplish shared goals, such as denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, stability in South Asia, nonproliferation in Iran, and political reform in Burma. As a long-standing ally, we must consult closely and respect Japan's perspectives, even as we contemplate next steps in our negotiations with nations like North Korea.
Thousands of miles away from the Korean peninsula, we face the resurgence of the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan and in the border regions of Pakistan. We are all too familiar with the reports that suggest the Taliban and al-Qaida are gaining strength. We were reminded of this fact in an unsettling report in Tuesday's Washington Post, but the most troubling report of all was last July, when the declassified National Intelligence Estimate warned of a persistent and growing threat from a reconstituted al-Qaida sanctuary in northwest Pakistan.
It is therefore critical that the U.S. and its partners in the international community, including Japan, maintain our focus and operations in this region.
In particular, I wanted to extend to the Prime Minister my appreciation for the support that Japan's Self Defense Forces have offered U.S. operations in Afghanistan, and hope Japan's deployment of refueling tankers will quickly be reauthorized and be extended.
Our half century alliance with Japan remains vital, based on common values and shared interests. There is ample room for improved efforts to forge an even stronger and enduring global security partnership. I hope that Prime Minister Fukuda's visit will continue the progress toward that goal.
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