Japan-France joint plan to help rebuild Iraq
TOKYO, March 2 (AFP) - Japan and France said Tuesday they had agreed to work together to rebuild Iraq, focusing on its cultural heritage and providing medical support to the people in the war-torn nation.
“We have agreed that it is important that Japan and France coordinate our efforts to rebuild Iraq,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said during a press conference with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin at the end of his two-day visit.
“We discussed that we will cooperate in the fields of culture, sports and medicine,” she said.
They had also decided to urge the United Nations to be more actively involved in the reconstruction of Iraq, she said.
De Villepin said the two sides had also agreed to press the international community to give more help to Iraq, to counter global terrorism and to stop the proliferation of weapons.
France was one of the leading European opponents of the US-led invasion of Iraq but has recently made overtures towards helping with its post-war reconstruction.
Tokyo staunchly supported Washington and has sent troops to the southern Iraqi town of Samawa to help with humanitarian and reconstruction aid.
Citing similar cooperation in Cambodia, the two nations agreed to support the Iraq National Museum, the Iraq National Library and the Iraq National Archives, according to a joint statement.
Cooperation in the field of medicine would take the form of sending staff of the Al Mansur Teaching Hospital of Baghdad, which France has been supporting, on a training course in Cairo, jointly organised by Japan and Egypt, the statement said.
The two countries would also support Iraqi athletes hoping to take part in international competitions and consider joint training programs covering electricity, agriculture and education, the statement added.
A French diplomatic source said in the longer term Paris also envisaged joint action with Japan to train a police force along the lines of its gendarmerie, but not before Iraq had regained its sovereignty.
De Villepin met earlier with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.France and Japan are vying with each other to host the 10-billion-dollar International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project to achieve nuclear fusion.
Koizumi told de Villepin that “Japan and France are countries that can cooperate while competing against each other,” said a Japanese foreign ministry official at their meeting.
De Villepin, speaking in French, noted that the alliance between French automaker Renault SA and Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. showed the countries have a “complementary relationship”.
After meeting with Kawaguchi, de Villepin said it was important to continue the dialogue over ITER because “that may give us a sense of direction in the future.”
The French minister reiterated his support for Japan’s bid to join the UN Security Council.
“We believe reform is needed for the UN Security Council to increase its efficiency,” he told reporters.
He also urged creation of multi-national frameworks to deal with regional issues, such as bringing peace in Middle East.
De Villepin and Kawaguchi said they had also agreed to help Africa and bring more international attentions to problems of the continent.
Subject: France news