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Japan is to waive Burma’s 300 billion yen ($3.7 billion) debt and plans to resume suspended assistance to the country, a report said on Thursday.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is expected to announce the debt waiver during a planned meeting with Burma’s President Thein Sein on Saturday in Tokyo, the evening edition of the Asahi Shimbun reported.
“Following the debt waiver, (Japan) plans to resume full-fledged yen loans to the country for the first time in 25 years,” the daily said.
Thein Sein will visit Japan from April 20 to 24 to become the first Burma head of state in 28 years to make the trip as the former dictatorship is gradually welcomed back into the global community.
As a first step, Japan is to announce a 127.4 billion yen waiver that had been previously agreed but suspended while the country was in the grip of the military regime, the daily said.
The remaining 176.1 billion yen, including interest and delay penalties, will be forgiven on condition that the process of democratisation continues apace, the paper said.
A foreign ministry official declined to confirm on the report but said: “It is true that the two countries are working on the debt issue as well as plans to pave the way for resuming Japan’s Official Development Assistance for Burma.”
Burma, long a global outcast, has been rapidly rehabilitated into the global community since polls last year saw the election of a nominally civilian government.
Earlier this month, democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to parliament and international sanctions on the regime are increasingly being relaxed.
Unlike major Western nations, Japan kept trade ties and dialogue with Burma in its years of isolation, warning a hard line on the then-ruling junta could push it closer to China, its main political supporter and commercial partner.
Thursday’s report came as European Union diplomats said EU countries have agreed in principle to suspend all sanctions against Burma, with the exception of an arms embargo, for a 12-month period.
Aung San Suu Kyi plans to visit Britain and Norway as part of her first trip outside Burma in 24 years, her party said on Wednesday, in the latest sign of her confidence in the country’s reforms.