Kishida to discuss Syria with Iran, other nations on U.N. fringes

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that he plans to discuss the conflict in Syria individually with his counterparts from Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Egypt on the fringes of a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York next week.

"I hope to discuss Syrian affairs, which are currently an important issue for the international community, with the foreign ministers from each of the countries and seek their understanding of Japan's position on regional affairs and global issues," Kishida told a news conference.

Kishida is expected to separately confirm with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius close bilateral coordination on a framework proposed by the United States and Russia to rid Syria of its chemical weapons.

Kishida also plans to discuss the issue of Iran's nuclear program with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Kishida's predecessor, Koichiro Gemba, also sat down for talks with his then Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly in September last year.

But Kishida is unlikely to hold talks with his Chinese and Russian counterparts, while the Foreign Ministry is still making arrangements to set a date for talks with South Korea, a ministry official said.

During his visit to New York from Monday through Friday, Kishida plans to attend a series of multilateral events, including a meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, and a meeting on the international development agenda beyond 2015 known as the Post-Millennium Development Goals.

As delegates from around the world gather for the U.N. General Assembly, Japan will host a meeting to discuss the Post-MDGs and health-related issues such as universal health coverage, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to promote employing the country's expertise.

Reform of the U.N. Security Council would also be an important topic for countries seeking permanent seats like Japan, as the council has yet to pass a resolution on eliminating chemical weapons in Syria, according to Japanese Foreign Ministry officials.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Four nations seeking seats on the council -- Japan, Brazil, Germany and India -- will gather to discuss how to reform the council that they see as slow in taking collective action, the officials said.