BAGHDAD, June 12 (UPI) -- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called for stronger diplomatic relations with Australia and Japan during a meeting with officials in Baghdad Thursday.
Talabani stressed to the Japanese ambassador the importance of strengthening political ties with Tokyo and called for stronger economic relations between the two countries, Voices of Iraq said.
"The president highlighted the importance of the Japanese contribution in investments and reconstruction fields in the country," a statement from Talabani's office read.
The president also called for better relations with Australia in the agricultural sector.
"The premier will be accompanied by an official delegation including ministers of finance, oil, interior, planning, immigration," a statement said.
In other news, Usama al-Negefi with the Shiite Iraqi National List of former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Thursday a new political party, the Iraqi National Front, would take shape next week.
"The INF will consist of a number of political parties, including the Fadhila party, the Sadrist bloc, the INF, the Arab bloc for dialogue and the National Dialogue Council," he told VOI.
None of the Shiite parties joining the Iraqi National Front is a member of the current Maliki administration.
"The new bloc aims to defend the national project and to reject sectarianism as well as to end the foreign occupation and to restore Iraq's Arabic and Islamic identity," Negefi said.