Asia-Pacific

Japan quake: S Korea, China leaders meet victims

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Media captionThe Chinese and S Korean leaders met refugees at an evacuation centre

Chinese and South Korean leaders have toured the area near Japan's damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, in a show of support for the quake-hit country.

Chinese PM Wen Jiaobao and South Korea President Lee Myung Bak met disasters victims at an evacuation centre, along with Japanese PM Naoto Kan.

During the trip, Mr Wen signalled an easing of a ban on Japanese agricultural products.

The visit comes ahead of a trilateral summit in Tokyo on Sunday.

The earthquake and tsunami in March left more than 24,000 people dead or missing and sparked a crisis at the Fukushima plant, where workers are still struggling to contain a radiation leak.

'Impressed'

Mr Lee and Mr Wen visited Sendai, before being joined by Mr Kan later on Saturday in Fukushima city, 60km (40 miles) away from the crippled nuclear plant.

The BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo says no foreign leaders have been as close to the plant since the crisis was triggered by the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.

At the Tatekoshi Elementary School in the northeastern town of Natori, which is being used as a shelter for quake victims, Mr Wen spoke to affected families and gave out gifts, including stuffed pandas, wind-up flashlights and radios.

He and Mr Lee also accepted tomatoes from local farmers keen to reassure other countries about the safety of Japanese products.

Image caption Radiation from the Fukushima plant is still leaking

Mr Wen said he hoped relations between Japan and China could be improved in the wake of the disaster, and said his country would ease restrictions on agricultural imports from Japan.

"China is willing to continue relaxation towards importing Japanese agricultural and other goods, with the condition that safety is assured," he told reporters.

Mr Lee said South Korea would do all it can to help reconstruction work in Japan.

"The world is impressed as it watches the attitude and courage that the Japanese people have shown in their effort to recover from the disaster," he said.

"I believe and hope that Japan will rebuild soon."

At Sunday's summit, leaders are expected to discuss nuclear safety, co-operation in disaster preparedness, and food safety, alongside trade discussions.

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