Japan and the United States will expand cooperation in the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism to include closer aid-policy coordination for Afghanistan and other strategically important countries, government sources said Thursday.

Top-level aid officials from the two countries — by far the world’s largest aid donors — will hold talks in Tokyo in the middle of June to kick off full-scale policy coordination efforts, the sources said.

The U.S. participants in the meeting will be officials of USAID, an arm of the State Department, while Japanese representatives will include high-level Foreign Ministry officials, the sources said.

Less than a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the U.S. administration of President George W. Bush launched military operations in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime and root out al-Qaeda terrorists.

Although the Taliban regime collapsed and an interim government, headed by Hamid Karzai, took office in December, the U.S.-led antiterror war in Afghanistan continues. Japan dispatched Self-Defense Forces to the Indian Ocean to provide logistic support, such as supplying fuel.

The aid-policy coordination effort apparently reflects the view that it is imperative to ensure the political, economic and social stability of strategically important developing countries for the global antiterrorism campaign to succeed.

According to the government sources, the countries include Yemen and the Philippines, where the U.S. sent troops earlier this year to assist in the fight against terrorists, the sources said.

The sources said that Japan and the U.S. will not necessarily launch joint aid projects, as they did in a wide range of areas, including environment protection and health promotion, under the so-called Common Agenda during the Clinton administration.

In the wake of Sept. 11, calls are growing to help fight poverty, widely perceived as a root cause of terrorism, especially in African countries.

Antiterror efforts and increased assistance for African countries are also expected to top the agenda for the upcoming annual summit of top leaders from the Group of Eight major countries in Canada in late June. The G8 comprises the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Russia.

In 2001, the U.S. replaced Japan as the world’s largest aid donor for the first time in 11 years. The U.S. provided $10.88 billion in official development assistance in 2001, up 9.3 percent from 2000, while Japan extended $9.67 billion, down a sharp 28.4 percent. Germany was ranked a distant third with $4.87 billion.

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