The Palestinian Authority hopes to establish a representative office in Japan in the near future, a minister of the authority said Thursday in Tokyo.

Nabil Sha’ath, minister of planning and international cooperation, said in an interview with Kyodo News that not having an office in Japan is unnatural for the Palestinian Authority, and that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will discuss the matter with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi when the two meet today.

Arafat is coming to attend a two-day conference of donor nations and international bodies in Tokyo that starts today.

Donor nations are expected to “exchange views to come up with measures to help the Palestinians” during the conference, which will involve officials from Canada, Egypt, the European Union, Israel, Jordan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United States, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Sha’ath also expressed gratitude for assistance the Palestinians have received from several countries, including Japan, saying that many schools, hospitals and roads have been built in the past several years in autonomous areas in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Japan and other nations agreed last year to provide Palestinians with $3.3 billion in financial aid for a period of five years. Tokyo has been the largest aid donor to the Palestinian Authority.

The minister reiterated Palestine’s intention to declare an independent state in 2000 that will be called the “State of Palestine.”

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