Germany to join new anti-nuke club: minister

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Germany will join a new group of countries calling for nuclear disarmament, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said here Tuesday following talks with Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada.

"My foreign minister colleague Okada has invited the Federal Republic of Germany to join, as a founder member, this nuclear disarmament group" which will meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York later this month, Westerwelle told reporters.

Germany, he added, would join the group which will also include countries such as Australia.

"Japan and Germany are pushing together for a step-by-step approach to a nuclear weapons free world," Westerwelle said.

Neither country has nuclear weapons of their own, though Germany is home to US nuclear weapons, according to media reports.

Westerwelle also spoke out in favour of non-proliferation, saying that "the more countries get nuclear weapons, the greater the danger that terrorist groups and criminals will get hold of such weapons."

Speaking at the joint conference, Okada called for "further steps by more countries to be taken to encourage non-proliferation and disarmament."

Westerwelle also spoke out in favour of a free-trade agreement between the 27-nation European Union and the Asian economic powerhouse, while warning that more work was needed before it could be achieved.

The EU has demanded that Japan do more to reduce so-called non-tariff barriers to trade, including product safety screening and government procurement rules as a first step towards such agreement.

© 2010 AFP

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