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U.S. President George W. Bush expressed his gratitude for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s “courage and friendship” in supporting the war on Iraq during a telephone call Friday.

In a 10-minute conversation, Bush said he is “always moved” by Koizumi’s firm support for Washington and that he highly values Japan’s package of humanitarian aid measures announced immediately after the war began.

The Foreign Ministry also quoted Bush as saying the military operations in Iraq have been “going well.” The president added that he believes the U.S-led forces will win with a minimum of innocent casualties.

Bush’s word of thanks have great importance for Koizumi, who has suffered a public bashing over his siding with Washington. Opinion polls show 80 percent of the public opposes the war on Iraq.

Koizumi told Bush that the United States is a true ally and friend, and that Japan also wants to remain a “trustworthy” ally of the U.S.

The prime minister discussed Japan’s financial and humanitarian aid package for nations neighboring Iraq and its plan for postwar reconstruction of Iraq, including removal of sea mines and weapons of mass destruction.

In a sign of high U.S. expectation of Japan’s financial involvement in rebuilding Iraq, Bush said the United States “wants to cooperate with Japan” in Iraq’s reconstruction.

Senior Vice Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi revealed in the morning that Bush had wanted to call Koizumi personally to give him advance notice of the attack, because Japan is on Bush’s list of countries that he would call.

But since the attack began “hastily,” the president had Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage call instead, Motegi said at the Foreign Ministry.

Some Japanese media suggested Japan was treated lightly because it received notice only a few minutes before the attack began Thursday, and because the call was not placed by the president himself.

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