Clinton Delays Japan Trip 24 Hours
US President Bill Clinton has delayed his scheduled trip to Japan for 24 hours to give extra time to Israeli and Palestinian negotiators here to reach a peace deal, the White House said.
"The president regrets that he will have to delay his departure to Japan for one day," a White House spokesman announced here shortly after midnight Tuesday.
"The president will now leave on Thursday and arrive in Japan for the opening of the G8 (Group of Eight industrialized nations summit) on Friday," the spokesman added.
"The president believes that this is in the best interest of the Middle East peace process," he said.
Clinton will be skipping a planned Thursday stop in Tokyo and proceeding directly to the summit site in Okinawa, Japanese and US officials said, quoted by Reuters.
The decision gives Clinton a few more hours to try to produce an accord between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat before leaving for the Friday-to-Sunday summit of leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations and Russia.
"It's impossible for Clinton to come to Tokyo on the 20th," a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said on Wednesday, adding that Clinton may go directly to the southern island of Okinawa, said Reuters.
Clinton had been scheduled to arrive in Tokyo around midday on Thursday and to hold meetings later in the day with Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.
He was also due to meet several leaders of developing nations, including South African President Thabo Mbeki, for a meeting to discuss such issues as debt, the spread of infectious diseases and the digital divide.
The Middle East peace talks had already kept US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright from a G8 foreign ministers' gathering in the southern Japanese city of Miyazaki last week, said the agency – (Several Sources)
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