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SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt (Kyodo) A mission consisting of Japanese corporate and government representatives is in Baghdad seeking investment opportunities in view of Iraq’s improving security situation.

The mission, headed by Gotaro Ogawa, ambassador in charge of reconstruction assistance to Iraq, arrived Sunday. It paid courtesy calls on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Vice President Tariq Hashimi and exchanged views with other high-ranking Iraqi officials.

“We are here to enhance our economic ties further,” Ogawa was quoted as telling the top Iraqi officials. The Iraqi prime minister thanked Ogawa for Japan’s continued economic cooperation, according to Japanese officials.

The mission members are drawn from 12 companies, including trading houses Mitsubishi Corp., Marubeni Corp. and Itochu Corp., and petroleum companies Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. and JGC Corp.

The government sector is represented by officials of the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Given that Iraq’s oil reserves are the third-largest in the world, many countries, including China as well as Britain and the United States, which led the invasion of Iraq, are now looking for investment opportunities.

Japan and Iraq signed a comprehensive partnership declaration Jan. 28 when former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iraq as a special envoy of Prime Minister Taro Aso.

Last month, the Japan International Cooperation Agency sent a study mission to the southern city of Basra to ascertain economic and security conditions for future yen-loan reconstruction projects in the region.

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