US Asian allies offer support for Bush in Iraq

The top US allies in Asia, Japan and South Korea, offered early support Thursday for President George W. Bush's announcement of a boost in American troops in Iraq. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose government is providing humanitarian air assistance in Iraq, offered his support in a telephone conversation with Bush from Berlin. "Japan regards highly President Bush's strong resolve toward Iraq's stability," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told reporters in Tokyo. Japan withdrew its 600 non-combat ground troops from southern Iraq last year, but has continued air support and Abe has made firm support for Bush a cornerstone of his foreign policy since taking office in September. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun also conferred with the American president by telephone ahead of the announcement and expressed support for the new policy, Roh's office said.