France says Japan nuclear danger 'extremely high'

AFP , Tuesday 15 Mar 2011

France's minister of foreign affairs Alain Juppe describes the situation in Japan as "extremely serious" as he discusses the environmental risks

The threat from a nuclear reactor damaged by Japan's huge earthquake is "extremely high," France's foreign minister said Tuesday as Japan met with other Group of Eight major powers.

"The situation is extremely serious... The risk is extremely high," Alain Juppe said on Europe 1 radio, after Japan's Takeaki Matsumoto briefed him and their other G8 counterparts on the situation on Monday evening.

Japan's nuclear crisis escalated Tuesday as two more blasts and a fire rocked the quake-stricken Fukushima atomic power plant, sending radiation up to dangerous levels.

"It is up to the Japanese to say how we can help them" after the deadly quake and tsunami, Juppe said, adding that French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants the G20 grouping of big economies "to be at Japan's service."

Responding to environmental concerns over France's own big nuclear power sector, he said there should be a debate on safety but insisted that "to say to the French that we are going to give up nuclear power would be lying."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed "our condolence and our solidarity" with Japan, standing beside Matsumoto before a bilateral meeting on Tuesday morning.

"Japan is always a very generous donor to any disaster anywhere in the world and today the world comes together to support Japan in its hour of need," Clinton told reporters.

Matsumoto said: "We have already been receiving a lot of assistance from the international community. We would like to overcome these difficulties with (the help of) the international community."

Clinton left Paris shortly after their meeting for Cairo.

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