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Japanese aid for infrastructure-building is vital to the development of East Timor, the Southeast Asian country’s prime minister, Xanana Gusmao, said Tuesday in Tokyo.

Gusmao and his team of Cabinet members, in Japan as guests of the government, acknowledged that the global economic turmoil has cast a shadow on the development of the island state. Expanding sectors other than oil and attracting foreign investment through improved infrastructure are key to the economy’s rebound, they said.

“We are very grateful for the Japanese government for their continued support,” Gusmao told a news conference at the Japan National Press Club, acknowledging Japan’s ¥15 billion in aid since the country gained independence in 2002.

Speaking with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone on Monday, Gusmao welcomed Japan’s proposal to dispatch a team of inspectors to East Timor to help in the building of infrastructure.

Prime Minister Taro Aso agreed on a plan Monday to cooperate in training police officers in East Timor. Japan will accept exchange students at the National Defense Academy.

“As a new country, we face difficulties which are natural and common in postconflict countries,” Gusmao told reporters, while reiterating his commitment to nurturing democracy.

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