Japan to resume new project lending to Iran--paper
TOKYO, June 30 (Reuters) - Japan will resume government loans to Iran
for new projects for the first time in seven years, in a bid to improve
ties with the oil-rich nation ahead of a visit by President Mohammad Khatami,
a Japanese newspaper said on Friday.
The business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun said the government later this
year will lend Iran more than five billion yen ($47.55 million) for an
anti-pollution project in Teheran.
Tokyo also plans to lend Iran 20 billion to 30 billion yen for a railway
project near the Persian Gulf beginning in the next fiscal year, which
starts in April 2001, the paper said.
A Foreign Ministry official declined to comment on the report, but said
the ministry is preparing for a visit by Khatami before the end of the
In 1993, Japan followed the United States in tightening economic sanctions
against Iran and suspended lending. The U.S. has placed Iran on its list
of state sponsors of ``terrorism.''
Following the 1997 election of Khatami, a moderate, Japan resumed a
dialogue with Teheran and lifted a six-year freeze on loans to Iran last
Last August, Tokyo agreed to lend 7.5 billion yen to help complete a
hydroelectric dam on Iran's Karun river, a project which it had agreed
to support in 1993, but it has yet to extend any loans for new projects.
The paper also said Tokyo was planning to provide trade insurance to
Japanese companies building infrastructure projects in Iran and set up
a joint committee with Teheran to discuss the safety of sea lanes to Japan.
Japan has a vital interest in the safety of ships travelling from Iran,
its third-largest source of crude oil in the 1999/00 fiscal year.
The paper said Tokyo would condition the new lending on Iranian efforts
to eliminate suspicions it is ``a terrorism-supporting nation.''