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Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008

No congrats on N. Korea's birthday


Staff writer

Japan did not send a congratulatory message to North Korea on its 60th anniversary Tuesday and instead urged the hermit state to play a "constructive role as a member of the international community," Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said.

"I haven't sent any particular messages" to the North Korean government, he said.

But he expressed hope that Pyongyang will carry out its pledge to denuclearize and restart a probe into its abductions of Japanese citizens.

In return, "Japan is ready to keep its promise" to partially lift sanctions, Komura said.

He also commented on the U.S. decision to pull 8,000 troops from Iraq in early 2009 and boost its Afghanistan presence.

"There are signs of stability in Iraq" while "maintenance of peace in Afghanistan is seeing extreme difficulty," Komura said, signaling Japan's missions to support U.S.-led antiterrorism efforts may change.

"Obviously, Japan must also consider the circumstances and analyze our activities in Afghanistan and the dispatch of the Air-Self Defense Force" in Iraq, Komura said.



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