Press Secretary Hatsuhisa Takashima: Good afternoon. Today, I would like to make a few announcements before I take questions.
First, today, we had the honor of receiving the visit of President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He met with Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura this morning. During the course of the discussions, Foreign Minister Machimura reaffirmed the intention of the Government of Japan to provide assistance of US$100 million to the Palestinian Authority for the current fiscal year which started from April this year and will end in the end of March next year.
In order to have a detailed plan of this Japanese assistance to the Palestinian Authority, both sides agreed to hold a ministerial meeting between the Japanese and Palestinian foreign ministers sometime in the summer or autumn of this year. That is one of the decisions they made.
Also, President Abbas expressed his interest in attending the three-party meeting if it is held between the Palestinians, Israelis and Japanese and if it is so agreed by the three parties. The Japanese side also expressed interest in holding that sort of thing, but it is simply up to the intention of the three parties concerned.
For your information, we are expecting the visit of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of the State of Israel to Japan sometime in the latter part of this month or in June. The Japanese side expressed strong intention to continue its support for Palestine's economic development and also the strengthening of its government system, by providing direct economic assistance to Palestine for the first time in recent years, and also some assistance to strengthen the function of the presidential office of Palestine.
My understanding is that President Abbas, after attending the press conference at the Japan Press Club, left Japan or is about to leave Japan for the next destination in his itinerary.