France offers Japan quake aid

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France offered aid to Japan to tackle its huge 8.9-magnitude earthquake on Friday which reports said had killed at least 19 people.

"France is ready to respond to any possible request that Japan may wish to make in order to handle this tragedy," French President Nicolas Sarkozy wrote in a letter to Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan, released in Paris.

The quake, one of the strongest ever recorded, left many people injured, police said, and unleashed a 10-metre high tsunami and widespread flooding.

Sarkozy expressed his "deepest emotion" at the disaster and "the support and solidarity of France for the Japanese people at this particularly difficult time."

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe echoed this in a statement. "France is ready to provide assistance to Japan if the country's authorities want it," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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