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Obama press conference with Japanese prime minister

The public statements will follow a bilateral meeting between the two leaders covering a wide-ranging agenda, including the U.S.-Japan security alliance, economic and trade issues and regional and global security concerns, according to the White House.

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The White House cited the push towards democracy in Burma, security threats from North Korea and ongoing conflict in Afghanistan as areas of cooperation and discussion for today's meeting. The global economy and trade relations are also expected to be priority.

Last week State and Defense department officials pledged to cooperate closely with Congress on a new defense pact with Japan that will cut the number of U.S. troops on Okinawa in half.

"Japan is not just a close ally, but also a close friend. And I look forward to deepening that friendship and strengthening our partnership as, together, we address security challenges in the region," said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in a statement released Thursday.

However, a bipartisan group of senators vowed to block any funding for the new plan, which moves half of the 18,000-strong Marine Corps force from Okinawa to Guam and other bases in the Pacific.

In the evening, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosts a dinner for the visiting prime minister at National Geographic, where they will announce a "new gesture of friendship between" the two countries, according to the State Department.

—This event has concluded.