- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2001

CAMP DAVID, Md. (AP) President Bush blessed Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's tough-medicine economic package in a mountaintop meeting yesterday.
In turn, Mr. Koizumi backed off his criticism of Mr. Bush's environmental plans.
Standing beneath a green dome of oak and poplar trees, the leaders of the world's two largest economies papered over their differences on several other issues at a playful news conference.
"There's no question in my mind our relationship will never be stronger than under our leadership," Mr. Bush said after private meetings in his presidential lodge.
A smiling Mr. Koizumi said: "I did not, at the outset, believe that I would be able to establish such a strong relationship of trust with the president in my first meeting."
Both newly elected and meeting for the first time, Mr. Bush and Mr. Koizumi came into the session with plenty of ticklish issues on their plate: Japan's faltering economy; global warming; missile defense; and Japanese whaling and the sometimes unwelcome deployment of U.S. servicemen in Okinawa.
Mr. Bush quickly set aside the first issue, declaring, "I strongly support" Mr. Koizumi's economic policies. The president dismissed suggestions that Japan's slow-growth plans could hurt the U.S. economy.
"I have no reservations about the economic reform agenda that the prime minister is advancing," Mr. Bush said. "He talks about tackling difficult issues that some leaders in the past refused to address."
Mr. Bush's endorsement was important to Mr. Koizumi after a history of tense U.S.-Japanese relations marked by badgering from U.S. presidents. In his campaign, Mr. Bush chastised President Clinton for harping on Japan to fix its economy.
With his prize in hand, Mr. Koizumi returned the favor by softening his criticism of Mr. Bush for rejecting a 1997 global-warming treaty.
"I am not disappointed at the president's position," the prime minister said. "The president is enthusiastic about environmental issues, and there is still time to discuss this issue."
However, demonstrating that differences remain, both governments released a joint statement before the meeting concluded in which Mr. Koizumi called the 1997 Kyoto Protocols important.
The statement also said Mr. Bush welcomed the prime minister's offer to open U.S.-Japanese talks to find common ground on climate change.
Mr. Koizumi later said he will work "to the very last moment" to reach agreement with Mr. Bush on the issue, preferring not to act on global warming without the United States.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush yesterday said in his weekly radio address that the United States needs a $32.6 billion increase in defense spending to improve training, readiness and quality of life for U.S. troops following a period of neglect.
"For too many years, our strength has dwindled," he said.
Mr. Bush said the increase he is seeking for the Defense Department is sorely needed.
The president said the soldiers of today are woefully underpaid for upholding the same principles as those who gave or risked their lives more than 200 years ago in Revolutionary War battles.
"We owe them the same appreciation that we feel for the soldiers of Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and Yorktown," Mr. Bush said. "We owe them fair salaries, first-class health benefits and decent housing."

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