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Lee visits Japanese embassy to offer condolences

March 19, 2011 - 10:34 By 양승진

   SEOUL/TOKYO (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak paid a visit to the Japanese embassy in Seoul Friday to convey a message of condolences for the victims of last week's massive earthquake and tsunami.

   Lee signed a condolence book, writing, "All of our people offer condolences for the victims. (We) are confident that Japan will quickly recover (from damage) and the Republic of Korea will be with you as the closest neighbor."

   Entering the embassy earlier, the president, dressed in a black suit and accompanied by his aides, was greeted by Amb. Masatoshi Muto.

   Lee told the envoy, "It is very regrettable." Muto replied, "Thank the South Korean government and people for expressing condolences and providing help."

   Lee said it was natural for South Korea to do so as a neighboring nation and reiterated that he was impressed by Japanese people's calm and orderly attitude despite the disaster that killed at least thousands. According to the latest tally by Japanese police, more than 16,000 people were killed or left missing.

   Park Geun-hye, former chairwoman of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP), and Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan also visited the Japanese embassy on the same day to express condolences to the earthquake victims.

   Park, a presidential hopeful of the party, offered a silent tribute to the victims and wrote in the condolence book, "I deeply mourn for the deaths from the massive earthquake in Japan."

   She told the Japanese ambassador that she hopes the Japanese people will be quickly healed from the losses and grief. The envoy responded with thanks to the South Korean people for their sympathy shown towards the Japanese people and provision of aid supplies, according to an aide to Park.

   South Korea has pledged to provide all possible assistance to Japan after the 9.0-magnitude offshore quake triggered a gigantic tsunami that wrecked the coastal regions in northeastern Japan.

   Seoul is one of the foreign nations that swiftly sent rescue workers and relief supplies to Tokyo after the disaster. On Saturday, South Korea is due to send an additional 6,000 blankets and 100 tons of mineral water to help victims in Japan.

   In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto told a South Korean ambassador to Japan that he appreciated the Seoul government and its people for their assistance.

   At a meeting with South Korean ambassador Kwon Chul-hyun, Matsumoto said support by South Korea is giving Japanese people encouragement.