TOKYO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari Tuesday in Tokyo asked Japan to extend the mission of its troops stationed in Samawah, Iraq.
"We hope that Japan's program to revive Iraq's economy will continue until security stability is achieved in Iraq," al-Jaafari told reporters at a press conference in Tokyo Tuesday afternoon.
Japan has about 600 troops in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah, helping rebuild hospitals and schools. Their term of deployment ends Dec. 14.
Al-Jaafari, in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Monday evening, said that Japan's humanitarian activities had been "appreciated and fully understood by the Iraqi people," and he requested that they be continued.
Koizumi said he would consider the request and ordered Japanese defense chief Fukushiro Nukaga to start preparing for the extension, Kyodo News reported.
At the press conference, al-Jaafari also expressed his hope that bilateral cooperation between Japan and Iraq would expand to other areas, and that Japanese private enterprises would consider getting involved in Iraq's reconstruction process. He said that 70 percent of Iraq's territory was safe, including Samawah.