JERUSALEM (Kyodo) Tunisia’s interim Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi has requested Japan to take part in an international conference he is organizing in late March in Carthage to drum up support for the turmoil-hit country.

Ghannouchi conveyed the request when he met with Japanese Ambassador to Tunisia Toshiyuki Taga on Saturday, and the ambassador said Japan will positively consider it, the Japanese Embassy in Tunis said.

Taga told the prime minister that Japan is ready to move forward with the implementation of a yen-loan-financed road construction project which Japan’s Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara promised when he visited Tunis in December.

Maehara visited the North African country to attend the Japan-Arab Economic Forum before a popular uprising swept Tunisia in mid-January, putting an end to President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s 23-year authoritarian rule.

Taga also said Japan can support job training programs in Tunisia’s inland areas where business and job opportunities are scarce.

Ghannouchi, who took the helm of the Tunisian interim government, has said that the country’s political upheavals cost it an estimated $5 billion to $8 billion. It is hoped the international aid conference will help restore the country’s infrastructure and promote democracy.

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