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Pakistan must join NPT regime: Japan

world Updated: Aug 23, 2007 12:38 IST

Japan has asked Pakistan to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while assuring all possible assistance in the defence and economic sectors.

A clear message was conveyed when Japan's Defence Minister and Special Yuriko Koike called on President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday at his camp office in Rawalpindi.

"Japan would like to see participation of Pakistan in NPT regime and we would like to continue discussion on the nuclear non-proliferation issue," the Japanese minister was quoted by an unnamed official as saying in The Nation newspaper.

The Japanese minister's visit coincides with the trip to India of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

During his talks with the Japanese minister, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri sought to push Pakistan's case for Japanese cooperation for civilian nuclear power plants with international safeguards.

Japan is a key member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and a strong proponent of nuclear non-proliferation.

According to officials, "they discussed Pakistan-Japan bilateral relations and expressed satisfaction over the progress made over the years between the two countries".

"Pakistan hopes that the NSG member countries will be sensitive to Pakistan's energy requirements and adopt a criterion-based and non-discriminatory approach," the Daily Times quoted Kasuri as telling Koike.

According to a statement issued by the foreign minister's office, Kasuri also discussed with Koike Pakistan's growing energy needs and emphasised the need for access to peaceful use of nuclear energy under appropriate safeguards.

He said Pakistan appreciated Japan's fuel and fresh water support to its naval vessels participating in Operation Enduring Freedom - Maritime Interdiction Operation (OEFMIO) in the Indian Ocean. Pakistan considers Japan's presence and continued support to OEFMIO imperative to the war on terrorism, he added.