Japan, US pledge $2 bn for Pakistan (Lead)

April 17th, 2009 - 12:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, April 17 (DPA) Japan and the US Friday pledged to provide $1 billion each in economic aid to Pakistan.
“Pakistan plays an extremely important role in the international fight against terrorism and extremism,” Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said at a ministerial-level meeting of the Friends of Pakistan group in Tokyo.

At the opening of the meeting, Aso officially announced Japan’s contribution of $1 billion to Pakistan. The US vowed to donate the same amount.

Aso recognised Pakistan’s potential to grow economically and pointed out the importance of cooperation from the international community in maintaining regional peace and stability, especially near the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan faces various issues, from lack of infrastructure and increasing poverty near the borders to a shortage of training programmes, Aso said.

Visiting Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari expressed the commitment of his government and people to defeat terrorism and militancy.

Zadari called on the participating states to help fight terrorism. He said, “If we lose, you lose. If we lose, the world loses.”

The meeting also called on Pakistan to strengthen its diplomacy to attract further support from the international community while emphasising the need for solidarity within the country, the chair’s statement said.

For Pakistan’s economic growth, the member states urged the South Asian nation to increase policy reform and encourage growth in the private sector as well as its accountability and transparency.

With the World Bank and Japan as co-chairs, a donors conference was scheduled to open later in the day, where 30 participating nations and international groups are expected to pledge $4 billion over two years.

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