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U.S. official says unified with Japan on need for Russian sanctions

TOKYO (Reuters) - A senior U.S. Treasury official said on Wednesday that the U.S. and Japanese governments are completely unified that sanctions are needed on Russia to encourage it to stop taking steps that the United States says are destabilizing Ukraine.

The official also said the U.S. government has no concern that Japanese banks and companies would try to take advantage of loopholes in sanctions to provide Russian companies with funding.

The official added that if the Russian government takes steps to decrease tensions in Ukraine, then Western countries could soften sanctions.

The United States and European countries have imposed sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea in March and its role in subsequent fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The sanctions have drastically limited access to Western banking money and modern oil technology, which is hurting Russia's economy as it relies on energy for half of its budget revenue.

(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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