Japan on Tuesday welcomed the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities and towns and pledged further aid and loans to help rebuild the country. Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone in a statement called the troop pullout six years after the US-led invasion "a significant step forward for Iraq to be self-reliant, ensuring its own security." "The government of Japan welcomes the completion of withdrawing the US combat troops from urban areas of the Republic of Iraq by the deadline, June 30, in accordance with the agreement between the two countries," he said. He added: "The security situation in Iraq has seen overall improvement, however sporadic terrorist attacks continue, and Japan strongly hopes that Iraq achieves further consolidation of stability."