Sarkozy moots solidarity trip to Japan end March

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday that he was prepared to go to crisis-hit Japan at the end of March to show solidarity in the name of the G8 and G20 blocs he heads.

"There's no question of bothering the Japanese authorities who must give themselves totally to managing the crisis," Sarkozy said in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence.

"But, obviously, if the opportunity presented itself and if the Japanese authorities agreed, it goes without saying that during my Asia tour, I would go there to show our solidarity."

Sarkozy was speaking as Japanese authorities battled to pour enough water into reactors and containment pools at Japan's quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant in a bid to douse fuel rods and prevent a disastrous radiation release.

"But the priorities are the victims, the crisis, it's cooling the power stations, it's finding water to fill the pools that don't have enough, that's the absolute priority," Sarkozy said.

Sarkozy is due to travel to Nanking in China for a conference on reforming the world monetary system, a priority of his time this year at the head of the G8 and G20 groups of powers.

Nearly 15,000 people were left dead or missing by Friday's devastating quake in Japan that also damaged nuclear power plants, according to official figures, with many bodies expected to be found.

More than 80,000 buildings were damaged and almost 5,000 destroyed.

© 2011 AFP

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