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Clinton visits Tokyo shrine

world Updated: Feb 17, 2009 15:24 IST

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began the first full day of an Asian tour on Tuesday by visiting a Shinto shrine in central Tokyo, ahead of talks later with Japanese leaders.

Clinton, the first top US diplomat in half a century to use Asia for her inaugural foreign trip, said she wanted to show her "respect toward history and the culture of Japan" as she arrived at the Meiji Jingu shrine.

"I'm honoured to be here," a smiling Clinton, wearing a blue jacket and dark-coloured trousers, told reporters before touring the shrine. Former US presidents including George W Bush have previously visited the shrine.

Clinton arrived in Japan late last night on the first leg of an Asian tour that will later take her to Indonesia, South Korea and China.

Soon after flying into Japan, she said she had chosen Asia for her first trip "to convey that America's relationships across the Pacific are indispensable" to addressing the challenges in the 21st century.

Clinton was set to meet Japanese leaders later on Tuesday before travelling to Indonesia on Wednesday.