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Friday, October 1, 1999 Published at 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

US and Russia to help Japan

The US military declined to help at first but still may provide support

By BBC Washington Correspondent Richard Lister

The United States and Russia have offered to send a joint team to Japan, to help deal with the nuclear accident there.

President Clinton said the United States would do whatever was possible to help with the situation, although the Japanese Defence Ministry said the US military had turned down a request for assistance.

Japan's nuclear crisis
A spokesman for the US forces in Japan told News Online that the American command "did not receive a request for assistance from the government of Japan or the Japan Defense Agency."

He said the US troops were "prepared to provide any assistance we can".

Speaking at the White House, Mr Clinton said the US would provide assistance to Japan as quickly as possible.

American diplomats and technicians are consulting closely with their counterparts in Tokyo, to see what help the United States can offer.

US experts standing by

[ image: The US and Russia are prepared to send a joint team]
The US and Russia are prepared to send a joint team
The Energy Secretary, Bill Richardson, said in an interview on CNN that the United States and Russia were willing to send the joint team to Japan, and that US experts were ready to go.

Mr Richardson said the American technicians could offer advice on how to protect people in the affected area and how to monitor the atmosphere.

He said the US also had specialised robots which could operate in hot and contaminated conditions.

A Defence official in Tokyo said American forces stationed in Japan had rejected calls for assistance, saying they had neither the expertise nor the equipment to deal with a nuclear accident.

But a spokesman in Washington said the US Defence Department was waiting to get a better idea of what the Japanese authorities needed, and that if the US military could help, it would.

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