EU to mobilise 'all appropriate assistance' for Japan
The European Union on Friday announced it would "mobilise all appropriate assistance" for Japan after the country was hit by a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake.
"We learned with great concern the news of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that today struck Japan and the Pacific region," said an EU statement issued as leaders of the 27-nation bloc went into an emergency Libya crisis summit.
"We express our condolences and support to the governments and the people affected. In addition to national responses, we have asked the High Representative and the Commission to mobilise all appropriate assistance," it added.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, and the High Representative, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, have funds to deal with emergencies and can also mobilise equipment and experts in natural disasters.
Several EU leaders arrived at the summit saying their first thoughts were with Japan.
"The first thing is to offer sympathy and condolences to the Japanese people," British Prime Minister David Cameron said as he went into an emergency talks on Libya.
"We have had a terrible reminder of the destructive power of nature," Cameron said, adding that Britain would do what it could to help.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he "wanted to express our solidarity with the Japanese people.
"I want to tell all the Japanese people that France stands with you in this terrible catastrophe.... We will send rescue teams, planes, whatever is needed to help."
A message of solidarity by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said: "We are deeply concerned at the news of the devastating earthquake which has struck Japan, causing a number of fatalities and serious material damage.
"The European Union expresses its solidarity and condolences to the people and government of Japan, and to the families of the victims at this difficult time. We stand ready to assist in any way we can in case of need."
© 2011 AFP