British Prime Minister Tony Blair has sent a letter to outgoing Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto thanking him for his contribution to the development of bilateral relations, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Teijiro Furukawa said Tuesday.

Hashimoto received the letter last Friday through the British Embassy in Tokyo, he said. In the letter, the British prime minister expressed his gratitude for Hashimoto’s support of such important events as the Imperial Couple’s visit to Britain in May and the ongoing U.K. ’98 festival.

Blair also called for permanent friendship with Hashimoto, whom he regards as an indispensable friend, Furukawa said.

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