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Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi expressed support Thursday for U.S.-British missile strikes against Iraq, saying that Iraq violated agreements with the United Nations to cooperate with arms inspections by the world body.

The statement issued by Obuchi, who was in Hanoi for talks with Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian leaders, said Baghdad’s cooperation with U.N. arms inspectors has been inadequate.

The military actions by the United States and Britain were taken “because of a lack of cooperation by Iraq with the (U.N. Special Commission),” he said.

Obuchi said he strongly hopes Iraq will “immediately and unconditionally” abide by the U.N. resolutions, adding that he also hopes Iraq’s relations with the international community will be normalized and international peace and security will be achieved through Iraq’s cooperation.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka also said Thursday that Japan may consider financial support for the U.S. and British action. “We may consider it only after receiving such requests through diplomatic routes. But I am basically speaking of it on condition that our country does not participate in actions that require our military forces,” Nonaka told a regular press conference in the afternoon.

However, Nonaka did not elaborate on a question concerning financial contributions, saying “I’m not in a position to comment on the assumption.” That morning, Nonaka hastily convened a press conference to announce Japan’s support for the U.S. and British airstrikes.

Condemning Iraq for not cooperating with the U.N. nuclear weapons inspectors, Nonaka said its stance seriously violates the U.N. resolution. “Japan strongly requests Iraq to immediately and unconditionally accept obligations spelled out in the U.N. resolution and implement them,” Nonaka said.

However, at the afternoon press conference, Nonaka declined comment on whether Iraq should establish a new regime to replace President Saddam Hussein. U.S. President Bill Clinton said in a televised speech that Iraq should establish a new government.

Nonaka said although Iraq’s dictatorship has had serious consequences and created instability in the Middle East for some time, he is not in a position to tell other countries what to do.

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