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The United States welcomed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s landslide victory Saturday in the Liberal Democratic Party presidential election, calling for continuing close cooperation between the two countries.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard Baker telephoned the prime minister to “offer his personal congratulations to Mr. Koizumi on his successful re-election as LDP president and to extend his wishes for continued close cooperation in the future,” the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said.

In Washington, many administration officials had expected Koizumi to be re-elected LDP leader, as did Japan-U.S. relations experts, and voiced hope that ties between the two countries will be further enhanced, including in the area of the reconstruction of Iraq.

A U.S. Defense Department official welcomed Koizumi’s re-election, saying Tokyo-Washington cooperation in the reconstruction of Iraq and the war against terrorism would be bolstered.

As for the possibility of the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces personnel to Iraq, the official said the U.S. hopes Japan will do so to help rebuild the war-torn country.

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