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Shafi Niaz, a senior member of the Pakistani National Security Council, urged Japan on Friday to lift sanctions against his country, saying it is abiding by a unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests, a Japanese official said.

Niaz conveyed the request to Foreign Minister Yohei Kono during their morning meeting. Kono, however, repeated Japan’s demand that Pakistan first sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the official said.

“We have announced a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. We hope Japan will take this into account,” the official quoted Niaz as saying.

Niaz, who was in Japan to attend Thursday’s official funeral for the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, also told Kono that Islamabad is working to build a national consensus that would make the signing of the CTBT possible, according to the official.

Kono, however, argued that Pakistan could achieve support for the CTBT by first signing the treaty as that would win praise from the international community and give Pakistan the moral high ground over its rival India.

Japan has repeatedly called on Pakistan and India to sign the CTBT. It has said it will lift sanctions against the two countries, imposed after they conducted nuclear tests in May 1998, only after they sign the treaty.

The sanctions involve the freezing of new grants and loans other than for humanitarian purposes.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party, however, has recently called for the lifting of the 2-year-old sanctions, saying Japan’s relations with India and Pakistan should not be allowed to deteriorate further.