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Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2005


Al-Jaafari urges mission extension

Staff writer

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari urged Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on MonFday to extend the Ground Self-Defense Force's mission in Samawah, southern Iraq, to help rebuild the war-torn nation, a government official said.

News photo
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi greets his Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Monday evening at the Prime Minister's Official Residence.

Al-Jaafari's visit to Japan is widely seen as part of the government's effort to nurture a positive atmosphere before it officially extends the GSDF mission in Iraq later this week. The mission currently is set to expire Dec. 14.

During the weekend, Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga made a surprise trip to Samawah, conducting an inspection that was aimed at paving the way toward public acceptance in Japan of extending the SDF mission.

"It is still too early to decide to pull out the troops," al-Jaafari was quoted as telling Koizumi. "Please consider the extension as an investment in the future of Iraq."

He was also quoted as saying the troops' withdrawal should be carried out in a peaceful and successful way that will be appreciated by local residents.

Koizumi said he will "greatly take into consideration" al-Jaafari's praise for the GSDF's activities in Iraq in deciding whether to extend the mission, according to the government official.

The Iraqi prime minister, who arrived in Tokyo earlier in the day and will leave Tuesday, thanked Japan for providing some $5 billion in aid, writing off 690 million yen of Iraq's debts to Tokyo and dispatching the GSDF to Iraq, the official said.

Convoy attacked

SAMAWAH, Iraq (Kyodo) Protesters threw stones at a convoy of Japanese troop vehicles Sunday in Iraq, breaking a mirror on one of the vehicles, officials of the Ground Self-Defense Force said.

The incident took place in Rumaythah near the GSDF's camp in Samawah as about 40 demonstrators, some apparently armed, surrounded a facility during a ceremony to mark completion of repairs by GSDF personnel, they said.

The demonstrators were members of a Shiite group headed by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, local police said.

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The Japan Times

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