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Japan welcomes Obama's Afghan troop boost

world Updated: Dec 02, 2009 12:01 IST
AFP
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Japan on Wednesday welcomed US President Barack Obama's announcement of troop reinforcements for Afghanistan and reiterated a pledge of five billion dollars in aid to help rebuild the war-torn country.

"We as the government welcome that the president himself has announced the Afghan strategy," top government spokesman Hirofumi Hirano told reporters in a brief statement, declining to elaborate on Tokyo's assessment.

Japan's centre-left government, which took power in September, has said it will end a naval refuelling mission that has supported the Afghan campaign but instead pledged more humanitarian assistance.

"As we have said before, we will offer five billion dollars in aid," Hirano said. "In addition, we will cooperate with the United States and other relevant countries in contributing to the stability and development of Afghanistan."

"In the fields where Japan can contribute, including civilian support activities... we will give our support in the best way to help the Afghans and to eradicate terrorism," Hirano said.

Obama said he would send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to battle the Taliban and that he would start bringing back US troops beginning in July 2011. He also cranked up pressure on NATO allies for more troops.

Hirano said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had informed Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in advance about Obama's statement.

There was no request from the US for Japan to join military operations by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Hirano said.

Japan's post-war pacifist constitution bars the country from deploying troops overseas for combat, but Tokyo has sent soldiers abroad for peacekeeping and military support missions.