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Japan to Send Experts to Deal with Chemical Weapons Issue

The Japanese government has decided to send expert groups to China to deal with the chemical weapons issue, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan in Beijing Thursday.

Kong said the Japanese government has said it will sent six metallic sealing experts on August 14 to Qiqihar City, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, to seal up the five barrels filled with mustard gas.

A group of seven medical experts will be sent to China on Aug. 16 to help cure the people poisoned by the gas, he said.

Kong said the Chinese side hopes the Japanese side will quickenits pace in dealing with the issue in a responsible manner and solve the chemical weapons issue at an early date.

On Augugust 4, five metallic barrels were dug up at a construction site. One of them accidentally broke, causing an oil-like substance to leak into the soil. The substance was later confirmed to be mustard gas.

By Thursday, 39 people had been hospitalized following exposure to the chemicals.

The Japanese government admitted Tuesday that the chemical weapons were left by Japanese troops during World War II, saying it felt "extremely regretful".
When asked to comment on the recent suicide bombing in Israel and the nation's Wednesday declaration that it would stop all peace measures, Kong said that China is concerned about the recent escalation of tension in the Middle East.
"We hope Palestine and Israel will cherish the recent positive progress in their peace talks, faithfully observe their commitments, and continue advancing the implementation of the 'road map' peace plan," Kong said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2003)

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