No deal for Japan PM on Afghan naval mission

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TOKYO, Oct 30 (Reuters) Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and the leader of Japan's main opposition party met today but failed to break a stalemate over extending a naval mission supporting US-led Afghan operations.

''Unfortunately we did not reach an agreement today,'' Fukuda told reporters after the meeting.

Fukuda is struggling against a newly powerful opposition to enact a bill to enable Japan's navy to keep providing fuel for US and other ships patrolling the Indian Ocean for drug runners, gun smugglers and terrorists.

Current enabling legislation expires on November 1 and the navy delivered fuel for the last time yesterday before withdrawing.

An official from the ruling party said Fukuda and Democratic Party leader Ichiro Ozawa had agreed to meet again on the weekend.

Prospects for extending the mission have been complicated by a scandal surrounding a former No 2 at Japan's defence ministry who oversaw the mission.

He was called into parliament and admitted yesterday he had wrongly accepted golf rounds and gifts from a defence contractor.

But he denied he doing favours in return.

REUTERS PD RAI0936

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