• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday that Japan is ready to extend billions in additional yen loans to Pakistan in response to Islamabad’s request, a Japanese official said.

In a meeting at the United Nations, Koizumi also urged the Pakistani leader to promote democracy in the country.

A Foreign Ministry official said Musharraf expressed concern that talk of military action against Iraq could provoke fresh anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

Koizumi told Musharraf that Japan plans to send an election-monitoring team to Pakistan to observe the national polls set for Oct. 10.

The proposed team will probably consist of 10 government officials, the ministry official said.

Musharraf, who doubles as chief of the army, told Koizumi the parliamentary elections would be held “in a fair and transparent manner.” The polls would be the first under Musharraf, who took office in a bloodless coup in 1999.

Regarding the economic support, Koizumi told the Pakistani leader that Tokyo will “offer as much cooperation as possible” to meet a Pakistani request for an additional yen loan to build a tunnel in the Kohat area, in northwestern Pakistan.

Japan has twice helped finance the 2-km tunnel project — with 5.4 billion yen in fiscal 1994 and 4 billion yen in fiscal 2001.

Apart from the additional yen loan, Koizumi also told Musharraf that Japan will keep a promise made last year to provide $300 million in financial aid to Pakistan by October 2003.

Tokyo announced the plan in November to boost Pakistan’s economy as part of its cooperation with the U.S. war on terrorism.

Japan suspended yen loans for new projects in Pakistan and India after the bitter rivals conducted a series of nuclear tests in May 1998. Tokyo lifted the measures last October to help them cooperate with the U.S.-led coalition.

On the standoff between the U.S. and Iraq, Musharraf told Koizumi that there are hostile feelings among Pakistanis and voiced concern that talk of attacking Iraq could lead public sentiment “to a direction that is not good,” the official said.

Musharraf asked Koizumi to urge India to resume dialogue with Islamabad to ease tension in the disputed Kashmir region. Koizumi did not respond to the request, the official said.

The meeting with Musharraf is the first of a series of bilateral talks Koizumi will hold during his four-day stay in New York. He arrived Tuesday.

After his meeting with Musharraf, Koizumi attended an evening ceremony in New York marking the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Koizumi joined 46 government leaders and 45 representatives from countries that lost citizens in the attacks, at the memorial service, where a flame was lit in memory of the victims.

Holding a candle, Koizumi stood with a group of state leaders near the remains of a globe-shaped object called the Sphere at Battery Park, located several blocks away from the demolished World Trade Center. The object had been part of the fountain at the World Trade Center.

Among the participants in the remembrance service were U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

On Thursday, Koizumi will meet U.S. President George W. Bush to discuss a range of security and economic issues, including Koizumi’s historic visit to North Korea next week and the matter of Iraq.

Koizumi also plans to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee the same day.

He will deliver a speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Friday.

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