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Armitage Urges Tokyo To Do More For Former Soviet Union

May 7, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A senior U.S. official said today Japan should offer more aid to the struggling countries of the former Soviet Union.

″Reform is gaining,″ said Richard Armitage, deputy coordinator of the U.S. assistance program. ″But there is an enormous journey ahead for our friends in the former Soviet Union.″

Armitage echoed German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who said in a New York speech Tuesday that the time had come for Japan ″to contribute more than it has up to now.″ Kohl said his country had ″reached the limit of our capacity″ to help the former Soviets make the transition from Communism to democracy and market economies.

″Japan, I would hope, is looking carefully at either a bilateral program with Central Asian republics or perhaps a program of using Turkey as the role model,″ Armitage said in a U.S.-sponsored telecast to Europe.

Turkey has taken a leading role in assisting the former Soviet states.

But Armitage reassured Toyko it has U.S. support in its attempt to recover territory lost to the Soviet Union in World War II. And he was sympathetic to Japan’s inclination to delay assistance to Russia until President Boris N. Yeltsin visits Toyko in September when aid might be used as leverage to get a favorable peace treaty.

″Japan would like to get as much motion on the peace treaty and northern territories question as possible,″ Armitage said on the Worldnet telecast. ″Hence the question of large amounts of aid to the Russian federation is probably dependent somewhat on the outcome of that series of talks.″

He called that approach ″understandable.″

Some 80 countries, including the 15 former Soviet republics, will meet in Lisbon, Portugal, May 23-24 to review assistance to the former Soviet Union. Armitage said it would not be ″a pledging contest.″

But, he said, ″all the participating nations want to check ourselves against the pledges we made in the January Washington conference... We will be looking and discussing with our friends how we can do our job.″

Japan maintains that its longstanding territorial dispute with the former Soviet Union will be a factor when it considers joining in the $24 billion international aid fund for Russia and other former Soviet republics.

Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa said recently Japan will take part in the Group of Seven’s aid program. But his government has yet to decide on Japan’s part and its share of the proposed aid.

Japan has withheld large-scale aid to Russia and the other former Soviet republics pending settlement of the dispute over a group of small islands in the Sea of Okhotsk occupied by Soviet troops at the end of World War II.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Japan has promised $2.66 billion in aid to the former Soviet republics, mostly in the form of import and investment credits.

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