TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi attended a multilateral meeting in Tokyo on Thursday to discuss ways to improve security following the liberation of the Middle East country from the Islamic State extremist group.
Working-level officials from around 30 countries and international organizations gathered at the meeting co-hosted by the Japanese and Iraqi governments and discussed how to support authorities’ attempts to collect the huge number of weapons spread across Iraq, provide vocational training and create jobs.
Preventing the further spread of automatic rifles and other arms is a major challenge that should be tackled in the war-torn country, according to Japanese government officials.
More than three years after Islamic State seized the northern city of Mosul, the Iraqi government in December last year announced that operations against the militant group were over.
At the outset of the meeting, Abe expressed Japan’s readiness to continue supporting Iraq, saying, “Fighting has yet to end. A true victory will come when a prosperous and safe country that never forgives violent extremist groups is created in Iraq.”
Abadi said, “After autocracy and barbaric wars, now is the time for Iraqi men and women of all ages to join hands toward peace and prosperity.”
Other participants of the Tokyo meeting included officials from the United States, Britain and Italy as well as the World Bank and the U.N. Development Program.
Later in the day, Abe and Abadi, who is paying a two-day visit to Tokyo through Thursday, are scheduled to hold their first talks in the Japanese leader’s office.
The Iraqi prime minister, who assumed the post in September 2014 immediately after the rise of Islamic State, is seeking to put his country on a track to recovery following years of turmoil in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In addition to the planned Japan-led weapons reduction initiative, Tokyo is expected to promise around 35 billion yen ($328 million) in low-interest loans for irrigation systems, water supply and sewerage projects.