TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese trade minister Toshihiro Nikai and his new U.S. counterpart Ron Kirk agreed Thursday to work toward a successful conclusion of the Doha Round of global trade talks in their first telephone talks, government officials said.
During the 30-minute conversation, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Nikai and U.S. Trade Representative Kirk also agreed that the two countries will work together to combat protectionism and strengthen the functions of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the officials said.
Japan requested the talks with Kirk, a former mayor of Dallas, who was approved last week by the U.S. Senate to assume the post, the officials said.
The World Trade Organization's Doha Round, launched in the Qatari capital in 2001, has stumbled repeatedly mainly due to splits between rich and emerging economies over how to reduce trade barriers in core areas of politically sensitive farm and manufactured goods.
Japan will be the chair of the economic cooperation forum in 2010, followed by the United States in 2011.
On Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said next year's APEC summit will be held in Yokohama.
APEC, a nonbinding consultative grouping for economic cooperation launched in 1989, comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.