WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured Japan
on Friday of 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.
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 Abe's landslide election victory last month.
"Our alliance with
Japan remains the cornerstone of American engagement with the region," Clinton
told reporters, noting a wide range of cooperation on everything from disaster
relief to the stand-off over nuclear North Korea.