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AFP reports that Japan is to offer $530 million in loans to Iraq, in part to help rebuild oil refineries, as Tokyo seeks to diversify fuel supplies after the tightening of sanctions on Iran.

A Japanese foreign ministry spokesman said that loans totalling 42.5 billion yen have been pledged to Baghdad to aid four infrastructure projects: a refinery in the southern city of Basra, another refinery in the northern city of Baiji, a hospital and a telecommunications system.

The total value of the projects is 160 billion yen and the main contractors will be Japanese companies.

Japan has eagerly sought to strengthen its ties with Iraq by offering reconstruction support in the aftermath of the conflict there. The world’s third-largest economy relies heavily on the Middle East for its oil needs, and is under pressure from the United States to reduce its dependency on Iran.

(Source: AFP)

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