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Japanese FM says to visit Iran on Jan 6

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi will travel to Iran for a two-day visit starting on January 6 to discuss issues of interest between the two countries as well as other topics, she told IRNA in Tokyo on Tuesday.

"I am going to discuss with Iranian officials issues of interest between the two countries as well as other subjects," she said.

Kawaguchi also expressed sympathy with the bereaved families, who have lost their dear ones in a devastating earthquake in southeast Iran, saying she would talk to Iranian officials about Tokyo's relief aid to the victims.

"The Japanese government wants to help the quake-stricken people in Bam at this painful and hard juncture," she said.

Japan, Kawaguchi said, has allocated one million dollars in cash as part of its humanitarian aid to the victims of the disaster and its non-cash assistance will arrive in Iran on Thursday.

Two Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) transport planes left for Iran Tuesday to transport relief goods to Bam, the Kyodo news agency said.

The C-130 aircraft, carrying a 40-member relief team as well as blankets and tents and other relief goods, is expected to arrive at Iran's Kerman airport on Thursday.

On Saturday, Japan sent an emergency rescue team to Bam, which was rattled by a strong tremor at 5:28 hours (01:58 GMT) on Friday.

Some 28,000 bodies have been pulled out from the rubble four days after the earthquake, but the death toll is feared to still rise.

The desert city, located 1,000 kilometers southeast of capital Tehran, is home to several landmarks, including a 2000-old citadel, said to be the world's biggest mud-brick structure, which is almost gone now.

... Payvand News - 12/30/03 ... --

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