Iraqi foreign minister to visit Japan

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari will visit Japan next week to hold talks with officials.` Zebari will meet with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Foreign Minister Taro Aso during his four-day trip beginning Nov. 23 to discuss Japan's support for reconstructing Iraq and other political, economical issues, the ministry said in a statement.

Zebari's visit comes as Japan is mulling whether to extend its military mission in southern Iraq, the AP reports.

The dispatch of about 600 Japanese troops to the southern Iraqi city of Samawah expires on Dec. 14.

Two-thirds of the Japanese public opposes extending Japan's mission to Iraq when its mandate expires, according to a poll by public broadcaster NHK released on Tuesday .

The telephone poll found 67 percent of respondents wanted to end the humanitarian, non-combat mission this year, while 22 percent said it should be extended, conducted with 1,046 respondents on Nov. 11-14. This would be the first time for Zebari to visit Japan, the ministry said. A.M.

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