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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

EDITORIAL

Pakistan's president in Japan

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visited Japan from Feb. 21 to Feb. 23, and he and Prime Minister Naoto Kan issued a joint statement on bilateral comprehensive partnership. In their meeting, Mr. Kan stressed that the role Pakistan is playing to stabilize Afghanistan is very important.

It is believed that many al-Qaida and Taliban elements exist on the Pakistan side of the border shared with Afghanistan. Stabilization of the security situation and building of a strong economic foundation in Pakistan is indispensable not only for Pakistan's sustainable economic development but also for stabilization of Afghanistan. Since Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons, its stabilization and peaceful development are essential in ensuring stabilization of the whole South Asia.

Japan has pushed a plan to provide up to $1 billion in two years from 2009 to Pakistan to help it strengthen its security measures and carry out economic reform. Mr. Kan told Mr. Zardari that Japan will also provide loans of some ¥15 billion to repair agricultural roads in Pakistan as part of its assistance to Pakistan's recovery efforts following last year's devastating floods. Mr. Zardari called for more Japanese investment in his country, saying that deepening of economic ties between the two countries will contribute to regional stabilization. He and Mr. Kan agreed to review measures to strengthen such ties.

Mr. Kan stated Japan's position on North Korea's nuclear programs, missile development and abduction of Japanese nationals. He especially expressed "grave concern" over the North's uranium enrichment program. Mr. Zardari supported the idea of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. But at home Pakistan has doubled its nuclear arsenal in the past few years, according to U.S. intelligence estimates. Before visiting Japan, Mr. Zardari expressed hope that Japan will extend civilian nuclear assistance to his country as in the case of India. But such assistance seems unlikely unless Pakistan makes strong commitment to international nuclear-nonproliferation efforts and makes its control of its own nuclear weapons and technologies credible.



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