• Kyodo

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Japan and the International Monetary Fund signed an agreement in Rome on Friday for a $100 billion loan to the Washington-based lender to help it assist cash-strapped countries amid the global financial crisis.

Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn signed the terms of the accord just ahead of a two-day meeting of the Group of Seven financial leaders.

“This loan is not only important for the IMF . . . but it’s mostly important for all countries having problems with the crisis and needing help,” Strauss-Kahn said during the signing ceremony.

“This loan of $100 billion is the biggest loan ever in the history of mankind,” he said, adding that he hopes other countries will follow suit by contributing to the IMF.

Nakagawa said, “I hope this can be put to good use very quickly.” He said that given the global crisis, it is important that the IMF play a major role in dealing with it.

The loan, announced by Prime Minister Taro Aso in November, will help the IMF shore up its financial standing and help continue lending.

The IMF has been trying to double its lending ability to about $500 billion to boost confidence so it can handle any future borrowers amid the deepening financial crisis, in addition to recent borrowers, such as Pakistan, Iceland and some Eastern European countries.

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