Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Receives a Courtesy Call from President Ahmed Al-Samarrai of the National Olympic Committee of Iraq (NOCI)
April 15, 2004
On Thursday April 15, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi received a courtesy call at 10am for approximately 20 minutes from Mr. Ahmed Al-Samarrai, President of the National Olympic Committee of Iraq (NOCI) who is on a visit to Japan. (Other officials who attended the meeting include Dr. Tiras Obisho Director Geniral of NOCI, Mr. Thaer A. Thabet, Charge d' Affairs ad interim the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in Japan, Mr. Tsunekazu Takeda, President of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), Mr. Seiichi Kondo, Director-General of the Cultural Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and others.)
- Prime Minister Koizumi welcomed the visit to President Al-Samarrai, who was once a basketball player, and asked some questions related to sports including which sports are popular in Iraq. Prime Minister Koizumi then mentioned other topics, including the humanitarian and reconstruction assistance provided by Japan to Iraq.
Moreover, Prime Minister Koizumi stated that sports bring hope to the Iraqi people, therefore Japan will continue its cooperation in this area and that it is most gratifying that Japan will be providing assistance for participation of Iraqi athletes in international athletic tournaments through cooperation between the Government of Japan and the JOC. He offered his encouragement and wished athletes the best of luck.
- President Al-Samarrai shared his view that sports nurtures in people a spirit of cooperation that transcends racial or ethnic backgrounds, and that it holds an extremely important role in the reconstruction of Iraq. He expressed his appreciation for the recent cooperation provided by Japan in this regard. In answering the questions raised by Prime Minister Koizumi, President Al-Samarrai noted the inadequateness of domestic sports facilities in Iraq which only has one stadium that was constructed in 1986, thereby not allowing sufficient training for athletes. Under the Saddam Hussein Administration, hardly any attention was placed on sports and the economic sanctions were the target of blame for the lack of sports facilities in Iraq. Under such circumstance, Sports facilities in Iraq are obsolete. President Al-Samarrai then expressed his wish for Japan, to provide assistance to Iraq in the area of sports, in addition to the tremendous support being provided in the form of economic cooperation.
- Furthermore, President Al-Samarrai stated that he intended to convey to the Iraqi people that the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) of Japan have not been dispatched to Iraq as an occupying force but rather to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance.
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