Iraq PM in Japan for Talks on Peace

Iraq PM in Japan for Talks on Peace

TOKYO (AP) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sought international support in Japan on Thursday to restore peace and prosperity in his country, torn by extremism.

Al-Abadi co-hosted a meeting in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss ways to improve public safety in the Middle Eastern country.

Abe was expected to announce a 35 billion yen ($330 million) loan for irrigation projects in Iraq during talks with al-Abadi later Thursday.

Japanese officials said the conference was aimed at helping Iraq reconstruct by establishing a system to eliminate weapons held by many civilians. The goal is to create jobs, provide vocational training and motivate people to return to their ordinary lives.

Automatic rifles and other weapons are widespread in Iraq and have been used by Islamic extremists in recent years, Japanese officials said. The Iraqi government in December announced the end of its operations against the militants.

Iraqi officials cited unemployment among youth and other vulnerable groups as a potential source of violent extremism, and said organizing vocational training appropriate for the labor market is a challenge.

Japan hopes to contribute its expertise from a U.N.-led disarmament and demobilization project in Afghanistan that ended in 2006.

Officials from 30 countries and international organizations attended the conference.

"In order to improve public safety, development is essential and vice versa," Abe told the conference. "I propose international support for the Iraqi government's effort through a new approach that integrates security and development."

(KA)