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Japan Lifts Freeze on Loans to Pakistan


Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has ended a visit to Pakistan by lifting a seven-year freeze on loans to the country. Mr. Koizumi's visit followed one to India, where the two countries agreed to support each other's bid for U.N. Security Council membership.

Mr. Koizumi wrapped up his two-day trip to Islamabad Sunday, praising Pakistan's support for the war on terror, but voicing concern about its nuclear weapons program.

Japan suspended a half-billion-dollar loan program to Pakistan in 1998 when Islamabad first tested its nuclear arsenal.

Mr. Koizumi said he had spoken Saturday with Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, about the need to prevent the spread of its nuclear technology.

"In my meeting I stated that Japan has been striving for elimination of nuclear weapons and for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons," he said.

Pakistani nuclear-scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed last year to illegally selling nuclear technology to several countries, including Iran.

But Mr. Koizumi's trip largely focused on the positive. He promised to strengthen ties between the two countries, agreeing to provide more than $150 million in new loans to Pakistan.

"This embodies our will to further grow our ties across the board between our two countries," he said.

The Japanese prime minister offered similar expressions of goodwill Friday in India. The two countries signed an eight-point agreement aimed at improving trade relations.

Tokyo is seeking greater international support for the expansion of the U.N. Security Council. Both Japan and India want permanent seats on the council. China, the only Asian country with a permanent seat and veto power, opposes Japan's bid.

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