Japanese prime minister reconsiders trip to Israel

Japan's Prime Minster Junichiro Koizumi said Thursday he is reconsidering his plans to visit Israel this week because of the grave illness of his Israeli counterpart Ariel Sharon. Meeting Sharon had been a key part of Koizumi's agenda for the trip, and the Japanese prime minister told reporters that his visit now would depend on the Israeli leader's health. "We'll examine if the situation will allow talks with Sharon," Koizumi said. "I'm concerned and I have heard that his condition is not very good. I hope he will recover soon." Koizumi had planned to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories beginning Saturday to further the Middle East peace process through talks with Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, possibly organizing a three-party summit.