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Japan to offer US loans for troop moves - media
Updated: 2006-02-19 14:18

Japan is considering extending loans to the United States to cover the cost of relocating U.S. troops out of the country, in an effort to break the deadlock in talks with Washington, a newspaper said on Sunday.

The two countries are seeking to finalize plans to reorganise U.S. military forces in Japan by late March, but have yet to agree on some key issues, including how to share the cost of moving some 7,000 Marines from the southern island of Okinawa to Guam.

Financial daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) said Tokyo would propose loans to shoulder part of the relocation cost, which Washington has estimated at $7.6 billion.

The paper said such Japanese lending to Washington was rare, but it was a way to win understanding from Japanese voters.

As part of the bilateral security alliance, Japan pays for a wide range of costs associated with the U.S. military presence -- an unpopular policy among the public -- but has never done so for the relocation of troops out of the country.

U.S. officials are believed to have urged Tokyo to meet more than half of the relocation cost, the Nikkei said.

The two sides failed to reach agreement in talks held in Tokyo on Saturday, and negotiations would resume in Hawaii on Tuesday, the paper added.

Tokyo and Washington agreed in October on a broad plan to reorganise U.S. bases in Japan, host to about 50,000 American military personnel, as part of U.S. strategy to make its armed forces more flexible and forge closer ties with Japanese troops.

But finalising it has been difficult as it has met strong opposition from local communities worried about crime, pollution and noise associated with the troops' presence.

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