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Ambassadors express support, sympathy
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The Foreign Ministry on Monday opened a book of condolences for foreign diplomats to express their sympathies for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake. It will remain open for three days, until the conclusion of the national mourning.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (left) shakes hands with Herve Ladsous, the French ambassador to China on Monday. Ladsous was one of dozens of foreign envoys to sign a book of condolences at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ambassadors and diplomats from more than 150 countries and international organizations on Monday lined up to sign the book and bowed their heads at a mourning board.

The diplomats also expressed their support for the Chinese government, the PLA and the Chinese people in dealing with the disaster.

Coffie Alain N. Papatchi, the Ivory Coast's ambassador to China, was the first to sign the Book of Condolences, while Jorge Eugenio Guajardo Gonzalez, the Mexican ambassador, led embassy staff in paying their respects.

Nirupama Rao, the Indian ambassador, who arrived back in Beijing on Sunday after visiting quake-hit areas, was also present.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi received the visitors and expressed his gratitude for their friendship and support.

The foreign ministry's overseas missions also opened books of condolence and flew the Chinese flag at half-mast on Monday.

Some foreign diplomatic missions in Beijing also flew their national flags at half-mast on Monday.

As of Sunday, the leaders of 166 countries and heads of more than 30 international organizations had offered their condolences to China.

As well as sending relief teams to the country, the international community has so far donated $246 million.

(China Daily May 20, 2008)

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