Japan has decided to partially lift sanctions imposed on Pakistan following its nuclear tests in May and will approve international bank loans to Islamabad, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura told his Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz, on Wednesday.

The decision was made to reward improvements achieved by the Pakistani government on nuclear nonproliferation, but Japan’s freeze on bilateral economic aid to Pakistan remains intact because Tokyo wants Islamabad to make further efforts on the issue, Komura told Aziz, Foreign Ministry officials said.

Japan’s move follows Washington’s decision, announced earlier this month, to lift most of its sanctions against Pakistan and India.

Islamabad and the International Monetary Fund will reportedly resume talks on a lending program that was frozen after Pakistan’s nuclear tests.

Komura said that Japan will approve loans by international banks such as the IMF, the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank on condition that other members of the Group of Eight industrialized nations do the same, the officials said.

Aziz explained to Komura that Pakistan’s financial health has worsened because of sanctions by the international community, according to the ministry officials. Aziz reportedly said in an interview earlier this week that Pakistan’s financial gap is estimated at $4.5 billion to $5 billion.

Aziz told Komura that Pakistan will sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty by September 1999 and is committed to passing legislation to control exports of nuclear and missile technology, the ministry officials said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif initially announced Islamabad’s intention to adhere to the CTBT in September at the United Nations General Assembly.

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