Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sought international support in Japan on Thursday to restore peace and prosperity in the Iraqi country.
Abadi co-hosted a meeting in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss ways to improve public safety in Iraq. A, and agreed to set up a working group to further discuss initiatives.
Abe announced a 35 billion yen ($330 million) loan for irrigation projects in Iraq during talks with Abadi later Thursday and pledged Japan’s continuing support. The loan is part of Japan’s $6 billion pledge to stabilize the Middle East, the source of 80 percent of its oil imports.
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, Japanese officials said.
The Iraqi government in December announced the end of its operations against the militants. But automatic rifles and other weapons are widespread in Iraq and have been used by Islamic extremists in recent years, officials said.
“We have fought the fight against terrorism with strong determination. Now we shift toward making the country safer and we are moving to an excellent level of development,” Abadi told a joint news conference.
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.