US, Japan pledge cooperation in talks at UN

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) ? President Barack Obama says the U.S. will continue to help Japan rebuild after a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Obama held his first meeting Wednesday with Yoshihiko Noda, Japan’s newest prime minister. Noda has held office for less than a month and faces domestic challenges beyond the natural disasters, including a stagnant economy and a crushing national debt. The two leaders met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Noda also said rebuilding is his top priority. Nearly 20,000 people died or were left missing after the March earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. A damaged nuclear power plant led another 100,000 people to leave their homes because of a radiation threat.

Obama also hailed the U.S.-Japanese alliance. He said both countries must focus on economic growth.