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Cheney may snub outspoken Japan Defense chief
Yahoo News/AP
February 12, 2007

TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States has asked Japan not to arrange a meeting between Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma, an apparent response to Kyuma's criticism of U.S. policy, Kyodo news agency said on Monday.

Last month, Kyuma irked the U.S. administration by saying the United States was wrong to start the war in Iraq. He also criticized Washington's handling of the relocation of a U.S. base in Japan.

According to U.S. and Japanese sources quoted by Kyodo, Cheney is scheduled to meet top officers of Japan's Self-Defence Forces during a visit to Japan from January 20, but a meeting with Kyuma may not be arranged because of "strong displeasure" over his remarks.

Cheney will also meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Aso.

Defense Ministry and U.S. Embassy officials were not available for comment.

Kyuma has angered the United States with a string of comments over the past few months.

As well as saying Washington was wrong to go to war in Iraq he also criticized it for not having a post-war gameplan. He later played down his comments, saying they might have appeared stronger than intended in translation.

Aso has also criticized U.S. policy in Iraq, with media reports last week quoting him as saying U.S. actions after the initial fighting in 2003 were "immature."

But the sources said the remarks would not affect future diplomatic plans, such as the visit by Abe to the United States that is widely expected to take place in late April or early May, Kyodo added.

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