Japan to give $1.5 billion Iraq aid

Japan will provide about $1.5 billion in grants to help rebuild Iraq, the government said on Wednesday.

    Junichiro Koizumi backed the Iraq war

    The aid, to be targeted at areas such as electricity,

    education, water and employment, will help rebuild Iraq's

    infrastructure and improve security, a government statement said.

    "We will provide a total of $1.5 billion in grants as

    near-term aid for Iraq's reconstruction," it said.

    "In addition, our country intends to conduct aid for medium

    term reconstruction and we are aiming to announce that at the

    Madrid donors meeting."

    Japanese interests

    An international donors' conference for Iraq will be held in

    the Spanish capital on 23 and 24 October.

    Japan depends on Middle East oil

    The statement has said Iraq's reconstruction is vital not only

    for peace and stability in the Middle East, but is important to

    the national interests of Japan, which relies on the Middle East

    for about 90% of its oil.

    The sum offered is far less than the $11 billion Japan gave

    for the 1991 Gulf War, but compares with $920 million

     offered by Britain and

    $105.6 million from Spain.

    Iraq concerns

    US President George Bush will hold talks in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister

    Junichiro Koizumi on Friday, at which the issue of Japan's

    contribution to rebuilding Iraq

    will be high on the agenda.

    Koizumi, whose ruling party faces an election on 9 November,

    has been wary of appearing to be at Washington's beck and call

    and of worrying Japanese voters, who are concerned about sending

    troops to Iraq.

    Japanese media have said total aid for Iraq will come to

    about $5 billion, switching from grants to loans in 2005 when

    Iraq is expected to have enough oil revenues to repay loans.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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