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Baghdad Bomb Blast Kills 10, Japanese FM Visits Iraq


Iraqi police say a bomb explosion in central Baghdad has killed at least 10 people.

The attack Thursday on a market wounded about 20 other people.

On the diplomatic front, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso made a brief, previously unannounced visit to Baghdad today. He was the first Japanese minister to visit Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Aso met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, and announced a 29-million-dollar loan to help Iraqi reconstruction.

Japan brought home its 600 troops from Iraq last month, after a two-and-a-half year reconstruction mission.

Meanwhile, news reports say Britain's outgoing ambassador to Baghdad, William Patey, is warning that Iraq is likely to break up along ethnic lines.

Patey says the situation in Iraq "is not hopeless," but there is a risk that Shi'ite militias could become "a state within a state, as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon."

The British envoy's comments, in a confidential memo sent to London as he completed his term in Baghdad, were first reported by the BBC.
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