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Chilean President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle and Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto agreed Sept. 1 to cooperate in promoting economic aid to third countries in Central America and the Caribbean, Foreign Ministry officials said.

Hashimoto proposed the cooperation and Frei accepted, saying that Japan’s experience in extending aid to neighboring countries is beneficial, the officials said. Details will be discussed at working-level meetings, and an agreement will be concluded hopefully by the end of the year, the officials said.

Frei is on a five-day visit to Japan that started Aug. 30 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. Frei told Hashimoto that Chile sees Japan as the most important nation in the Asia-Pacific region and wants to develop friendlier ties, officials said.

He also told Hashimoto that Chile supports Japan’s bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, according to the officials. The two leaders issued a statement saying they have become important economic partners. Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda and his Chilean counterpart, Jose Miguel Insulza, agreed earlier in the day to strengthen bilateral political dialogue, the officials said.

Meanwhile, Chilean President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle called on Japanese businesspeople Sept. 1 to strengthen economic ties between the two countries, citing steady social and economic progress in the South American country.

“I would like to ask you to pay attention once again to Chile, which has modernized, conducted political reforms, made economic progress, reduced the poor, arranged the legal system and opened its door to the cultural progress,” Frei said to a gathering of some 200 people from the two nations. “100 years have passed. Please don’t wait for another 100 years. Please come to Chile that is very stable and reliable,” said Frei, who is currently visiting Japan in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the two countries’ establishment of diplomatic ties.

Frei was speaking to participants at a luncheon meeting sponsored by the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations, the Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations, the Japanese Association of Corporate Executives, Japan Foreign Trade Council, Inc., and the Japanese National Committee of the Japan-Chile Business Cooperation Committee.

In the speech, Frei emphasized Chile’s economic stability and the rise of its annual growth rate in the last 10 years to greater than six percent. He also spoke about the Latin country’s efforts to establish free trade agreements with other countries.

Prior to Frei’s speech, Kosaku Inaba, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the audience that Japan needs to move onto investment in Chile for production, exports and services rather than staying in current resource-oriented investment trends.

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