Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb called on Japan Tuesday, October 30 to ease his country's debts to Tokyo and help it tackle domestic problems, a Japanese government official said. The request was made when Abu Ragheb, who arrived here Monday on a four-day visit, held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the official said.
Amman's debt to Tokyo stands at around $1.8 billion, or 20 percent of its overall foreign debt, according to official Jordanian statistics. Abu Ragheb told Koizumi that the United States and European nations have been "forward-looking" with regard to their credits to Jordan as well as their economic cooperation with the Middle East country, the official said.
He wished Japan would follow suit as Jordan battles high unemployment, poverty and other economic problems, the official added. The remarks were taken to suggest that Jordan wanted Japan to reduce or reschedule the debts. Japan is Jordan's largest financial donor and its main creditor.
Koizumi was quoted as telling Abu Ragheb that he "understood Jordan's economic situation well." But he also said Japan had its own economic problems and its official development aid abroad had to be reduced due to its financial constraints.
"We wish to cooperate in a way that would contribute to the Middle East peace process," Koizumi was quoted as saying without making a firm commitment. The Japanese premier also praised Jordan's support for the US-led campaign against terrorism and pledged to cooperate in the efforts in a non-military way, the official said.
Abu Ragheb called on Japan to join hands with the United States, Europe and Russia in trying to bring the disputing sides to the Middle East negotiating table, the official said. — (AFP, Tokyo)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )