Visit to Baghdad, Iraq, by Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso
August 3, 2006
On August 3, Mr. Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs, visited Baghdad, Iraq, and held talks with Mr. Hoshyar Mahmud Zebari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and then with Mr. Nuri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq. The gists of the talks are as follows.
Talks with Mr. Hoshyar Mahmud Zebari, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq
Time: about 35 minutes starting at 18:20 (13:20 local time)
Place: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iraq
1. At the beginning, Foreign Minister Zebari said:
- (1) The Government of Iraq and its people heartily welcome the visit of Foreign Minister Aso. I think that his visit is quite timely for further development of Japan-Iraq relations, which have entered a new stage after the redeployment of the final contingent of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces.
- (2) The Ground Self-Defense Force completed its mission without firing a single shot and carried out their redeployment safely. The Self-Defense Forces did wonderful work. I again express my gratitude and pay tribute to them. Their contribution was very important in attaining the trust of the Iraqi people and made a favorable impression on the Iraqi people. The fact that the SDF engaged in reconstruction activities, mixing with the local people, will set a good example for the reconstruction process by the international community in coming years in Iraq.
- (3) I highly value Japan's leading role for the reconstruction of Iraq. The people of Iraq will never forget Japan's support.
- (4) The Iraq Compact, which was formally launched late July, is very important to systemize the assistance of the international community for Iraq, and I would like to ask Japan for further contributions.
- (5) I once again express my appreciation to Japan for the debt-relief measures of about six billion dollars, implemented when I visited Japan in November last year.
- (6) On the present situation of Iraq:
- (a) The Iraqi people are leading a reasonable daily life, and public order is stable in the regions except for Baghdad.
- (b) Although the stagnant petroleum industry is a problem, the foreign investment bill has been deliberated at our parliament and the economy is anticipated to recover in the future.
- (c) The success of the National Reconciliation Plan is important as it not only leads to the improvement of public order but also enlists support from the neighboring countries including the Gulf States and Syria.
2. In response to Mr. Zebari's statement, Mr. Aso stated:
- (1) I have visited Baghdad for the first time as a Japanese cabinet minister to come here since the exercise of force in March 2003, to convey to Iraqi leaders Japan's strong will to maintain its commitment to assisting Iraq after the withdrawal of the GSDF. I regard as timely this visit right after the full withdrawal.
- (2) I am pleased that the Iraqi side highly appreciates the contribution made by a total of 5,500 members of the SDF. In addition to expanding the transportation assistance by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), Japan intends to proactively support Iraq's reconstruction efforts through assistance, mainly maximum 3.5 billion dollar yen-loan projects focusing on the development of infrastructure for economic activities.
- (3) Japan intends to further widen the range of future Japan-Iraqi relations which entered a new stage following the withdrawal of the SDF and the inauguration of the new government by, for example, by strengthening political dialogue and economic relations. To do so, Japan intends to discuss measures at various levels. In this regard, Japan invites Foreign Minister Zebari to Japan following his visit to Japan in November last year.
- (4) Japan welcomes the official launch of the Iraq Compact process in accordance with the joint statement issued by Iraq and the United Nations on July 27. Japan intends to proactively participate in and firmly support the process. Iraq can count on Japan.
Talks with Mr. Nuri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq
Time: about 30 minutes starting at 20:05 (15:05 local time)
Place: Prime Minister's Office
1. At the beginning Prime Minister Maliki said:
- I welcome the visit of Foreign Minister Aso to Baghdad. I highly praise the contribution of Japan including the activities of the Self Defense Forces units. Japan is Iraq's best friend. I hope to enhance the bilateral relationship between Japan and Iraq in wide-ranging fields of politics, economy, and culture, and ask Japan to activate investing in Iraq.
2. In response to Mr. al-Maliki's statement, Mr. Aso stated:
- (1) I have visited Baghdad to convey to Iraqi leaders Japan's strong will to maintain its commitment to assisting Iraq even after the withdrawal of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces (JGSDF).
- (2) In addition to expanding the transportation assistance by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), Japan intends to proactively support Iraq's reconstruction efforts through assistance, mainly maximum 3.5 billion dollar yen-loan projects focusing on the development of infrastructure for economic activities.
- (3) Japan welcomes the official launch of the Iraq Compact process in accordance with the joint statement issued by Iraq and the United Nations on July 27. Japan intends to proactively participate in and firmly support the process.
- (4) Japan invites Prime Minister al-Maliki to Japan, and hopes that he will visit Japan.
- (5) I would like to hear the results of the vigorous efforts made since Prime Minister al-Maliki assumed his post, including announcements of the National Reconciliation Plan and the security measures.
- (6) I would also like to hear the outcome of the Prime Minister al-Maliki's visit to the Gulf countries, the US and the UK.
3. The Iraqi Prime Minister responded:
- (1) The large majority of the Iraqi people support the National Reconciliation Plan, but there are some who refuse to coexist. The Iraqi forces are being strengthened steadily, but some countries are interfering with the stability of national security. I intend to hold a national reconciliation meeting by gathering religious and other types of leaders in society.
- (2) I believe the negative heritage from the time of Saddam Hussein's administration has been dissolved by my visit to the Gulf States. I have talked with the US and the UK leaders about the Iraq Compact and received their support.
- (3) I receive with pleasure the invitation to visit Japan.
4. Finally, Foreign Minister Aso said "If the security situation is stabilized, investment will also be invigorated. If political situation is stabilized, the economy will also be stabilized. I hope that the initiatives taken by Prime Minister Maliki will be more productive in future."
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