Japan has pledged up to 16.68 billion yen in loans to Costa Rica to help the country build a hydroelectric power plant 70 km south of San Jose, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Foreign Minister Yohei Kono and Costa Rican Foreign Minister Roberto Rojas exchanged notes to this effect Tuesday at the Iikura guesthouse in Tokyo as Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez Echeverria looked on, the official said.

The 25-year loan with an annual interest rate of 2.2 percent is expected to help fill the anticipated gap in supply and demand of power in the country by building a 128-megawatt power plant as part of the nation’s electric power corporation’s energy plans, the official said.

During the signing ceremony, Rodriguez said the loan is very important to Costa Rica, which is an environmentally conscious country hoping to be able to produce all of its energy from clean sources such as water and wind power.

The president explained that, as of last year, 99.5 percent of Costa Rica’s energy was produced cleanly, according to the official.

After the ceremony, Kono and Rojas met for about half an hour and agreed to continue cooperating both bilaterally and on the multilateral stage, including working on reforming the United Nations, the official said.

Rojas said Costa Rica supports expanding the number of permanent and nonpermanent members of the U.N. Security Council, according to the official. Japan wants to be a permanent council member.

The two foreign ministers also decided to work together to urge the United States not to pull out of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol aimed at curbing global warming, following U.S. President George W. Bush’s decision last week to withdraw from the agreement, the official said.

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