The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Japan ends chill with aid for Bengal project

New Delhi, Jan. 7 (PTI): Japan today committed to India aid totalling $900 million for various projects, including the Bakreswar thermal power plant in Bengal, restoring the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) facility almost to the pre-Pokhran II level.

The Japanese commitment was given by visiting foreign minister Yoriko Kawaguchi during talks with external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha.

The loan under the ODA would be extended by the end of March, Hatsuhisa Takashima, Japanese foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters after the meeting between the two foreign ministers.

The projects which will receive the ODA include the Delhi Metro, the Simhadri thermal power plant in Andhra Pradesh, afforestation programmes in Rajasthan and Punjab and a sewage treatment plan along the Yamuna.

Takashima said today’s commitment brings India almost on a par with China and that Delhi is likely to better Beijing to become the largest recipient of the ODA from Japan.

The Japanese spokesman said the leap forward in bilateral relations was made possible by the global partnership reached between the two countries during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s talks with his Japanese counterpart Junichiro Koizumi more than a year ago.

The two prime ministers had also agreed on a security dialogue and agreed to work against terrorism.

Kawaguchi assured Sinha that Japan would cooperate with India in all its efforts at the UN on pushing through the convention on terrorism.

The Pakistan-North Korea nuclear axis came up during the discussions with Kawaguchi expressing concern over nuclear proliferation. She described it as a “very serious issue” for Japan and the international community. Japan urged Islamabad to exercise restraint and desist from giving nuclear assistance to North Korea.

The Japanese foreign minister skipped Islamabad during her current visit to South Asia but the spokesman sought to downplay it, saying Kawaguchi had gone to Pakistan only a few months ago.

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