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TOKYO, (AFP) - Japan and Armenia agreed Wednesday to strengthen international cooperation in fighting terrorism and boost wide-ranging bilateral relations.

The agreement was reached in a meeting between visiting Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, according to a joint statement issued after their meeting.

In the 35-minute meeting at his official residence, Koizumi welcomed Armenia's denunciation of terrorism following the September 11 terror attacks on the United States, a Japanese government official said.

“Regional stability is essential to eradicate terrorism,” Koizumi was quoted as telling Kocharian, who was the first Armenian president to visit Japan. The premier pledged to promote friendly ties with Armenia and cooperate in maintaining stability in the region, the official said.

The joint statement committed the two countries to strengthening cooperation in fighting terrorism, striving for a total ban on nuclear tests and support for the non-proliferation of mass-destruction weapons. It also said the two countries would promote bilateral relations in the political, economic and cultural fields.

Kocharian called on Japan to continue aid to his country even if Tokyo plans to cut its official development assistance due to its financial constraint, the official said. Kocharian also called for direct Japanese investment in his country.

Koizumi noted Armenia's move toward a market economy and democracy and promised to consider as much cooperation as possible to its efforts, the official said.
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