THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
_________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release                                        February 24, 2009
 

Oval Office

10:35 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I would just like to say welcome to the Prime Minister. Obviously the friendship between the United States and Japan is extraordinarily important to our country. It is for that reason that the Prime Minister is the first foreign dignitary to visit me here in the Oval Office. I think it's a testimony to the strong partnership between the United States and Japan.

The alliance that we have is the cornerstone of security in East Asia. It's one that my administration wants to strengthen. We think that we have an opportunity to work together not only on issues related to the Pacific Rim but throughout the world, and Japan has been a great partner on issues ranging from climate change to Afghanistan. We're going to have a very busy session, and I'm very grateful that the Prime Minister agreed to come and I'm looking forward to a very constructive dialogue.

PRIME MINISTER ASO: Do I have to say something? Well, first of all, thank you very much for inviting me as a foreign official, a foreign guest, to the White House. On behalf of not only Japan but as a nation, we are very honored to be here as the first of foreign guests.

Nowadays there are so many issues we will have to (inaudible), and we as a number one and second biggest economies of the world, we will have to work together, hand in hand. And I think we are the only two nations which can offer enough to solve those very critical, vital issue of the world. I do hope our cooperation will help for the future generation of the world.

THE PRESIDENT: All right. Thank you, guys.

Q Why Japan --

THE PRESIDENT: It's a great partner, and as I said, a cornerstone of security as well as one of our strongest economic partners. Thank you very much, guys.

END 10:38 A.M. EST

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