Japan, Pakistan vow to keep up Afghan effort

Kyodo News

Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Pakistani President Asif Zardari pledged Tuesday to continue cooperating on reconstruction in Afghanistan, noting that stability there is “vital” for ensuring peace in the region.

In a joint statement issued after they held talks in Tokyo, the two leaders reaffirmed their “unequivocal condemnation of terrorism.”

“Pakistan is a very important nation for Japan particularly because of the big role it is playing in the stability of its neighboring country Afghanistan,” Kan said at the outset of their meeting in his office.

Zardari thanked Japan for its role in promoting stability and development in Afghanistan and the Asia-Pacific region, according to the statement.

The leaders agreed to strengthen bilateral economic ties through trade, investment and infrastructure. Zardari told Kan that Pakistan has “vast opportunities for mutually beneficial investments” and that his government is preparing an action plan to promote Japanese investment.

Kan and Zadari also touched on North Korea, with Kan reiterating Japan’s desire to resolve Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, and its abductions of Japanese nationals, in a comprehensive manner, the statement read.

Zardari said the Pakistani government supports a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons and voiced hope that all the issues concerning the North will be resolved peacefully.

Japan unveiled a loan of about ¥15 billion to Pakistan for repairing roads to farming areas damaged in last year’s massive flooding.

Maehara to Britain

Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara told visiting British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office David Howell on Tuesday that he intends to visit Britain next month prior to a Group of Eight foreign ministerial meeting in Paris.

Maehara plans to visit Britain before the G8 gathering on March 14.