On behalf of the Government of Japan, I should like to express my deepest gratitude to the Government of the Kingdom of Norway and to the United Nations for enabling us yet again to meet to discuss how best to help the Palestinians to improve their economy, institutional capacity and livelihood, pre-requisite to realize a two-state solution.
Japan firmly supports the on-going peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Authority re-inaugurated in Annapolis last November. In this context, tangible improvements in the daily lives of the Palestinian people are essential in keeping the momentum of the peace process. To this end, conditions of movement and access should be further eased. Also to facilitate the peace process, freezing of the settlement activities by the Israelis as provided for in Stage I of the Road-map is called for.
To help President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad, and the Palestinian Authority, Japan is implementing its commitment of 150 million US dollars made at Paris Conference last December. We have so far disbursed 27 million US dollars through consultation with the Palestinian Authority. And today, I am pleased to announce at this meeting that the Government of Japan will provide additional 10 million US dollars in the form of non-project grant aid to ease the budgetary burden of the Palestinian Authority. Japan's contributions since the Oslo Process started in 1993 now amount to about 1 billion US dollars.
For the Palestinians to build a viable and sustainable economy is essential, as it is a necessary attribute of any independent state. To help achieve this goal, Japan has proposed "The Corridor for Peace and Prosperity" initiative. This is to build an agro-industrial park in the Jordan Valley, which will provide the Palestinians job opportunities, facilitating the export of value added products to surrounding areas including the Gulf States through Jordan. The project rests on the public and private sector cooperation among Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Japan and others.
On the eve of the G8 Toyako Summit in July, to facilitate the project, Japan hosted the third ministerial-level meeting of what we come to call the Four-Party Consultative Unit for this initiative in Tokyo, with the attendance of Dr. Samir Abdullah, Minister of Planning of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mr. Gideon Ezra, Minister of Environmental Protection of Israel, Mr. Salaheddin Al-Bashir, Foreign Minister of Jordan, and our Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura who chaired it. They decided that the basic infrastructure related projects will begin to be implemented as early as possible in 2009. We are confident that this initiative will succeed, deepening a sense of mutual trust and confidence among the parties involved.
Also, we actively participated in the successful Bethlehem Investment Conference which was widely televised in Japan. We look forward to its follow-up.
While the primary responsibility to maintain the momentum for the Middle East peace rekindled in Annapolis rests with Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it is incumbent on us international community as well that a sense of real hope we experienced there shall not be dimmed. Japan believes that Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the United States and all the others concerned remain committed to sustaining the peace-process. Japan will continue to share in the international responsibility to realize the two-state solution.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.