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(LEAD) President pledges assistance to help Japan recover from quake

All Headlines 20:44 March 11, 2011

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, comments throughout)

SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak pledged to extend full assistance to Japan as it recovers from the massive quake that hit the country earlier in the day, the presidential office said.

Lee, who addressed an emergency meeting of senior policymakers and aides, stressed that the incident which took place in the neighboring country was tragic, and ordered the government to do its utmost to assist in the recovery efforts, said Hong Sang-pyo, the president's secretary for public affairs.

Japan was hit by a record magnitude 8.8 quake that caused a towering tsunami to hits its eastern shores and destroyed everything in its path. The extent of the damage has made it hard to determine how many people have been killed and injured.

The spokesperson said the president expressed hope that the damage caused by the earthquake is limited.

"The chief executive also said that the latest incident could have serious repercussions for the global and South Korean economies and called on the government to gauge its impact," he said.

The president, in addition, told officials that the country should prepare for any contingencies even though most experts did not think that such a destructive natural phenomena could occur around the Korean Peninsula.

Prior to addressing the meeting the president talked to Seoul's ambassador to Japan and the consul general in Sendai, instructing them to do their best to look after South Korean nationals living and traveling in Japan. There are a large number of South Koreans living in the country.

The meeting held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae was attended by the foreign and public administration ministers, officials from the prime minister's office and senior aides.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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