Japan to Give $29 Million for Iraq Rebuilding Efforts

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso arrived in Baghdad on a surprise visit Thursday, bringing with him a 3.3 billion yen ($29 million) loan to jump-start Iraq's economic development.

Aso, who is the first Japanese minister to visit the Iraqi capital since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, said his country will continue to support Iraq's reconstruction despite withdrawing its humanitarian troops.

"The Japanese government will continue to support the Iraqis in the reconstruction. Our support has entered the second phase," Aso told reporters at a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

CountryWatch: Iraq

Zebari said Japanese government has promised Iraq a soft loan of $29 million to help jump start the country's economy

"During this visit, we discussed the best ways to benefit from the 3.5 billion yen. This loan has been offered to the Iraqi government," he said.