SDF MISSION STANDS, ARMITAGE TOLD

Japan to host donors’ conference on Iraq

Kyodo

Japan told the United States on Monday it will host a donors conference on Iraq in October, a Japanese official said.

Vice Foreign Minister Yukio Takeuchi announced the plan when he met with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as part of the Japan-U.S. Strategic Dialogue, the official said.

Takeuchi assured Armitage that Japan will continue to deploy troops to Iraq and provide financial assistance to the country.

The U.S.-led coalition transferred sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government on Monday — two days ahead of schedule.

Takeuchi and Armitage agreed that Japan and the United States will continue close coordination on Iraq-related issues, according to the official.

Armitage praised Japan for its plan to host a ministerial conference on the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, which consists of two trust funds administered by the U.N. Development Program and the World Bank.

At an international donors’ conference in Madrid in October, participants agreed to create the U.N.-World Bank trust funds for Iraqi reconstruction.

Japan has pledged $490 million for the funds, about half the $1 billion offered by international donors as this year’s donations. Including its donations to the funds, Japan’s financial assistance to Iraq will total $5 billion over the next four years.

Takeuchi and Armitage also agreed that the latest six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear threat produced some progress.

They said Japan and the United States will continue to cooperate on using the six-party framework to try to achieve the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear programs.

The United States, North and South Korea, China, Japan and Russia held their third round of talks last week in Beijing.

The United States and North Korea for the first time presented detailed proposals to end the nuclear standoff.

The talks resulted in no breakthroughs, but the six countries reaffirmed their commitment to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear arms and agreed to hold a fourth round by the end of September.

Takeuchi and Armitage were later joined by Ashton Calvert, secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

They discussed measures to strengthen efforts to block the spread of weapons of mass destruction and related materials, in addition to issues related to Iraq and North Korea, a Japanese official said.