$24 million pledged to North Africa

Kyodo

Japan has pledged roughly $24 million in new aid to a group of North African countries, including Algeria and Morocco, to continue helping them combat terrorism and enhance security in the region.

At a meeting Tuesday in Tokyo, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and ministers from the so-called Maghreb countries recognized the importance of security in further promoting trade and investment, infrastructure building, education and technology exchanges, they said in a communique.

Unveiling the approximately $24 million in fresh aid, Kishida called on the recipient nations to step up anti-terrorism measures to ensure the safety of Japanese personnel and companies operating in the region, officials said.

Ministers from the Maghreb countries expressed desire to forge a stronger partnership with Japan, the officials said.

Ten Japanese workers were killed in a terrorist attack and hostage-taking in Algeria in January along with other foreigners. The mastermind behind the incident belonged to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, an Islamic militant group also known as AQMI that has been active in North and West Africa.