(Tentative translation)

photo (Foreign Minister Taro Aso)

Statement by H.E. Mr. Taro Aso Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan at The International Ministerial Conference of the Neighboring Countries of Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain and the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and the G8

May 4, 2007
in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

Japanese

Your Excellency, Prime Minister Maliki,
Your Excellency, Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to welcome the holding of the first international ministerial conference on the major issues such as stabilization and national unity of Iraq. Japan highly appreciates the initiative of the Government of Egypt and commitment of the Government of Iraq to hold this conference. Today, the stabilization of Iraq is one of the most urgent issues confronting the international community, and it is especially opportune to hold this conference at this juncture, when the Government of Iraq is making a determined effort to restore security.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Based on the belief that the successful reconstruction of Iraq contributes to the stabilization of the international community and is directly linked to its own national interest, Japan has proactively supported Iraqi efforts for stabilization through various forms of assistance, including the dispatch of the Ground Self-Defense Force personnel to Iraq and airlift support by the Air Self-Defense Force, as well as the steady implementation of the aid package amounting to US $5 billion announced at the Conference in Madrid and debt relief of approximately US $6 billion and human resource development.

Moreover, Japan decided in February this year to extend new emergency grant aid totaling US$104.5 million through UN organizations, to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in the areas of greatest urgency such as basic human needs, security and capacity-building. US$13.5 million of the pledged amount has been allocated for assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons in Iraq. We have also conveyed to the Government of Iraq our intention to provide a yen loan equivalent to US$ 2.1 billion for 10 projects.

At this point in time, Iraq continues to face a difficult security situation. Japan highly appreciates the Iraqi Government's proactive efforts in taking enhanced security measures under Prime Minister Maliki's strong leadership. Let me reiterate that Japan fully supports Prime Minister Maliki and expects that the Prime Minister's efforts will achieve the early restoration of public security, with the assistance of the United States and other members of the international community.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Japan believes that, in addition to success in the implementation of the security measures, the promotion of Iraqi national reconciliation is indispensable for the stabilization of Iraq. With that in mind, and wishing to cooperate in the undertaking to the extent of its ability, Japan hosted in March a seminar on national reconciliation in Iraq, inviting a 13-member Iraqi delegation comprising parliamentarians and other influential persons and headed by H.E. Mr. Akram al-Hakim, Minister for National Reconciliation. During the visit, the delegation learned about successful examples of peacebuilding throughout the world and ways in which those experiences of the international community may be applied to the stabilization of Iraq. The delegation also had the opportunity to visit the Atom Bomb Museum in Hiroshima, in order to share in the knowledge and experience gained in the course of Japan's reconstruction and democratization after the Second World War. I was delighted to hear that the members highly appreciated this invitation. Prime Minister Maliki and Vice President al-Hashimi, in their recent visits to Japan, also fully recognized the importance of national reconciliation, and it is encouraging to note their determination to work towards that goal.

In addition to assistance from countries outside the region, the cooperation of the neighboring countries of Iraq is also indispensable for the stabilization of Iraq. Recently, Prime Minister Abe visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar. During his trip, the Prime Minister actively exchanged views with the Heads of State of those countries regarding the Iraqi situation, and encouraged their cooperation for the stabilization of Iraq. It is likewise important for countries such as Iran and Syria to play a constructive role for the stabilization of the region and make efforts to this end. Japan, as one of the countries who have provided the largest assistance to Iraq, would like to continue to cooperate with those countries. In this regard, the provision of a framework for dialogue such as this conference can be very beneficial, and I strongly hope that such undertakings will continue.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The International Compact with Iraq endorsed by the international community yesterday is a comprehensive compact covering the areas of politics, security and the economy, and setting a roadmap for each area. Now it is essential that the Compact be implemented steadily under the responsibility and leadership of the Government of Iraq. Japan will spare no effort to support the efforts of the Government of Iraq to this end.

It is my strong hope that the Iraqi Government and people will achieve stable security and national reconciliation at the earliest possible time, with the support of the international community, and I conclude my remarks by expressing the hope that the day will come very soon when the people of Iraq will enjoy the life as pleasant as the atmosphere of the crystal clear water in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Thank you very much.


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