Japanese FM on surprise visit to Afghanistan

KABUL (AFP) – Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura met President Hamid Karzai during a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday in which he urged better relations with Pakistan.

Komura, who arrived from Islamabad, told reporters he had also called on Afghan leaders to focus on improving the quality of government as well as tackle the booming narcotics trade.

He said through an interpreter that he had asked his Afghan counterpart Rangeen Dafar Spanta to work to “improve relations” with Pakistan.

The neighbours have exchanged accusations about the source of the insurgent violence in Afghanistan, with Kabul saying Islamabad should do more against the extremists based in its tribal areas on the border.

Komura also said his country would push for more international support for Afghanistan at a conference of the Group of Eight rich nations due in Japan in July.

Japan has been a major donor to Afghanistan, pledging 1.3 billion dollars since the fall of the Taliban.

However its pacifist constitution limits its military activities and it does not have troops among the international forces helping Afghanistan fight the Taliban, who were ousted from government in 2001.

Komura visited Pakistan on Saturday and unveiled a loan of up to 47.9 billion yen (454.86 million dollars) for Islamabad’s infrastructure development, the Japanese foreign ministry said.

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