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. Japan, Iran agree on Afghanistan, not nuclear push
TOKYO, Jan 28 (AFP) Jan 28, 2009
Japan and Iran agreed on Wednesday to work together for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, but Tehran rejected Tokyo's call for a suspension of its nuclear programme.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dispatched special envoy Samareh Hashemi for talks in Japan, a close US ally which nonetheless keeps cordial relations with the Islamic republic.

In talks with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, Hashemi "acknowledged and supported Japan's efforts in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan," a foreign ministry statement said.

"He said that Japan and Iran would be able to cooperate in this field."

Nakasone replied that it was important for Iran to play a "constructive role" in neighbouring Afghanistan working with the international community.

Earlier this month, Japan said it would send civilian officials to Afghanistan in the coming months to take part for the first time in NATO-backed reconstruction efforts.

Officially pacifist Japan has pledged two billion dollars of aid to Afghanistan and keeps a refuelling mission in the Indian Ocean as part of the US-led "war on terror."

During the meeting, Nakasone urged Iran to stop enriching uranium in an effort to "win the trust of the international community," the statement said.

But the Iranian envoy only repeated Tehran's position that the country's nuclear activities were for peaceful purposes.

Many foreign capitals fear Iran's true intent is to build atomic weapons and alter the balance of power in an already unstable region.

Under US and European pressure, the United Nations Security Council has imposed three rounds of targeted sanctions on Tehran, but has so far provoked only defiance from the regime.

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