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Japan earthquake: Obama offers condolences


Updated: March 12, 2011, 8:05 AM IST
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Japan earthquake: Obama offers condolences
US President Barack Obama spoke to the Japanese Prime Minister discuss the earthquake and Tsunami.

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Friday said he is heart broken by the massive earthquake and tsunami that has devastated parts of Japan killing
hundreds of people and offered help to the affected people.

"You know, I'm heartbroken by this tragedy. I think when you see what's happening in Japan, you are reminded that, for all our differences in culture or language or religion, that ultimately humanity is one," Obama said in response to a question at a White House news conference.

Earlier in the day, Obama, telephoned the Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to discuss the massive earthquake and Tsunami.

"I am very confident that the Japanese people are so resourceful, Japan is such a powerful economy and such an advanced economy technologically, that Japan will successfully rebuild. And it has experience dealing with natural disasters.

"It has dealt with them before and will deal with them again. And Japan, I'm sure, will come back stronger than ever, hopefully with our help," he said.

Terming it as a potentially catastrophic disaster, Obama said the images of destruction and flooding coming out of Japan are simply heartbreaking.

"We currently have an aircraft carrier in Japan, and another is on its way. We also have a ship en route to the Marianas Island to assist as needed," he said.

"The Defence Department is working to account for all our military personnel in Japan. US Embassy personnel in Tokyo have moved to an off-site location, and the State Department is working to account for and assist any and all American citizens who are in the country," he said.

Obama said he spoke to the Japanese Prime Minister Kan, and he specifically asked him about the nuclear plants and their potential vulnerability as a consequence of the earthquake.

"He indicated that they are monitoring the situation very closely. So far they have not seen evidence of radiation leaks, but obviously you've got to take all potential precautions," Obama said.

"I have asked (the Energy Secretary) Steve Chu, to be in close contact with their personnel to provide any assistance that's necessary, but also to make sure that if, in fact, there have been breaches in the safety system on these nuclear plants that they're dealt with right away," the US President said.

First Published: March 12, 2011, 8:05 AM IST
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