A grant contract was signed today according to which Japan contributed USD 61.894 for upgrading the Japanese Language Lab. of the Institute of African and Asian Studies, University of Khartoum. The contract was signed by the Japanese ambassador to Sudan Ryoichi Horie and the Institute\'s manager Dr. Abd al Rahim Hamid Mugadam at the diplomat\'s residence in the presence of Undersecretary of the Higher Education Ministry Prof. Omer al Magli and Vice Chancellor of the University of Khartoum Prof. al Sideeg Ahmed Mustafa Hayati. The ambassador said the project is funded by Japan through the scheme of Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects for the first time in Sudan reiterating that human interaction at the grass-roots level is essential to build a true friendship between the two countries, \"Japan commits itself to devote its utmost efforts to cooperate with Sudan to strengthen further cultural relationship between Sudan and Japan through this project of capacity enhancement of the language institute\" he added. The ambassador pointed out that cultural cooperation between the two countries is dated back to 1970s when the Government of Japan provided opportunities for Sudanese students to study in Japan on government scholarship, and those students have been playing significant role in consolidating bilateral cultural ties based on their experience in Japan. He described the current project as a milestone toward achieving expansion of cultural relations between Sudan and Japan through provision of chances to promote the Japanese language for potential learners in the country. Dr Abd al Rahim expressed appreciation for the Japanese grant indicating that it would help in enhancing teaching of Japanese language by providing PCs, language laboratory software, Japanese multimedia, teaching materials and other related items. Prof al Mugli hailed the Japanese government for the grant which would boost cultural ties with such a developed and rich country and because knowledge of language is very crucial in establishing relations between nations. Prof Hayati indicated that the University of Khartoum maintains ties with various Japanese universities and institutions and many of its alumni received degrees from Japanese universities hoping for further cooperation. Japan\'s Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects (GCGP) provides nonrefundable financial assistance to support the implementation of cultural and higher education projects conducted by non-profit organizations (including nongovernmental organization (NGOs) local authorities, research and higher education institution, etc.) that are active at the grass-roots level in the developing countries.