• Kyodo

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Japan plans to host a meeting of international donors in Tokyo in June to help Sri Lanka rebuild its war-ravaged country, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Monday.

Kawaguchi outlined the plan in a meeting with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Japanese officials said, adding Japan is considering hosting the donors meeting in early or mid-June.

Kawaguchi, who arrived in Colombo on Sunday, also paid a courtesy call on Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Monday.

In a separate meeting with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando, Kawaguchi expressed hope that the Sri Lankan government and Tamil rebels will continue to make progress in their peace talks, according to Japanese officials.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which have been fighting the Sri Lankan government since 1983 for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east, signed a ceasefire agreement with the government last February.

Kawaguchi told Fernando that Japan plans to provide economic cooperation for projects that include power generation and electricity distribution.

She also expressed Japan’s intention to help improve irrigation systems in LTTE-controlled northeastern Sri Lanka.

Fernando thanked Tokyo for its support, saying Japan’s economic involvement is extremely important.

Kawaguchi inspected a land mine removal site earlier Monday in northern Sri Lanka’s Jaffna, capital of the war-scarred Tamil heartland, which saw years of fighting between government forces and the LTTE.

After receiving instructions from the British nongovernmental organization HALO Trust, which is engaged in land mine removal in Jaffna, Kawaguchi disposed of a recently recovered land mine by setting off the fuse.

It is estimated that up to 2 million land mines are still buried in Sri Lanka, including 500,000 in Jaffna.

Kawaguchi also announced about 153 million yen in grant aid from Japan to HALO Trust and two other international NGOs.