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Friday, Oct. 3, 2008

JICA prepared to send staffers to Iraq this year

Staff writer

Japan is ready to dispatch aid workers by yearend to help reconstruction efforts in Iraq, Sadako Ogata, head of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, said Thursday.

JICA, which merged with a portion of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation on Wednesday, became the world's largest bilateral development organization, with 1,600 employees and financial resources of about ¥1 trillion to allocate in more than 150 countries.

Ogata said one of the expanded agency's priorities will be Iraq.

"We would like to open a field office in Arbil," Ogata said during a speech at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, saying safety concerns have eased in the war-torn country.

JICA's staff are working from its office in Jordan to help rebuild Iraq's infrastructure. But it would be more effective if the group could allocate aid at the site, Ogata said.

JICA is now in charge of administrating both loans and grants to developing countries as well as dispatching personnel for technical assistance.

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